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Learning from Ben Hogan’s Pivot Compression (Part 2)



Note: Part 1 of this story, Learning from Ben Hogan’s Pivot Compression, can be read here

As a teacher at Lakewood Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, I see many of my students (and almost everybody else) suffer from losing posture during both the backswing and the forward swing. They tend to lift up in the backswing, and their hips eventually thrust forward and upward toward the ball as they approach impact, causing their head to raise up and back, giving the general feeling of “coming up out of the shot.” How many times have you said to yourself or had a playing partner tell you that you “looked up” or “came out of it?”

I began to devise a set of instructions and drills to rectify this serious swing error by incorporating elements of Pivot Compression into my students’ swings. Over time, I have developed and documented a body of detailed information, much of it available on video on my website,, designed to help players achieve a more efficient, powerful and athletic golf swing.

In this story, I give you a short list of ideas that is a great place to start for anyone interested in adopting the Pivot Compression move into their swing.

1. Set up with your weight on the balls of your feet. 


Your movement in your backswing will be to move pressure back toward your right heel with your head staying out over the ball. If you start with your weight on your heels at address, moving to a deeper position will feel out of balance.

2. Start the backswing with your upper trunk while encouraging the right hip to move backward almost immediately. 

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The right knee should stay flexed or even add a little flex, and the right foot should stay braced in so that the weight on it does not drift to the outside of the foot. This helps to keep the hips from swaying to the right. If the head stays out over the ball as it should, the shoulder turn will feel steeper as the hands and arms move slightly inward toward the body.

3. At the same time as your upper trunk starts your swing, begin to increase the pressure under your right foot and move that pressure toward your heel by pushing the right side of your pelvis back.

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If the pelvis deepens on the right side, the left side of the pelvis will not move forward much at all, meaning that now your entire pelvis has moved to a deeper position, one that is critical to your ability to clear your left side in the forward swing. Your head will lower as you do this, but the lowering will be due to the increased depth of your midsection. Practice this backswing in a mirror. As you get used to it you can load it with a weighted club. Again, it is very important to not allow your head to back up away from the ball at this or any point of the swing.

4. Initiate the forward swing by using the muscles in the right side of the pelvis that rotate the hip to reverse the direction of the hip movement from clockwise to counter-clockwise.

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Because the right leg is now loaded and braced, this counter-clockwise rotation will drive the entire pelvis away from the right foot, giving the swing its necessary lateral left movement. This is done just before the backswing finishes, driving your hips in a diagonal direction approximately 45 degrees left of the target line.

The transition movement utilizes the pressure you feel under the inside of the right foot and will begin to rotate the hips immediately, but you must still activate and aggressively use the muscles on the left side of the pelvis as well as the muscles of the entire left leg (for a detailed analysis of the pelvic movement in transition please refer to Dr. Jeffrey Mann and his website

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See the short shaft in the ground? It’s a great training aid.

Many people feel that the left knee initiates the forward swing, but that movement alone will not ensure pressure change from right to left, and I would suggest that you focus on the right side and the ground pressure under the right foot to start your downswing. Once the right side has rotated and driven to the left, your goal will be to clear the leg behind you as fast as you can. I like to have my students put a short shaft in the ground right between their feet and just in front of their knee line so that they will be able to tell if their lateral drive is deep enough. If the right leg knocks into the stick, then it is pushing too much toward the ball, which is the leading cause of “early extension” or loss of posture (standing up) during the downswing.

5. Make room for the right arm to drive in front of the right hip while trying to get the hands to pass by the body as close to the original address position as possible (the shaft-plane approach).

The club will hopefully still be cocked at 90 degrees to the right forearm as the hands reach the ball, which is the best way to guarantee forward shaft lean at impact. Impact drills are the best way to learn this feeling, so punch shots (low shots hit with a swing that reaches only left arm parallel in the backswing and shaft parallel to the ground in the follow through), split hand punch shots, and punch shots that start with the hands pre-cocked are great ways to practice.

6. Drive the hips to the finish.

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The feeling should be to “squeeze” the glutes and inner thighs while approaching impact and to continue this feeling all the way past the ball, so that it feels like the belt buckle is being driven upward and to the left. Hogan, as usual, is the best example of this, but if you like more contemporary players look no further than Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.

Learn more about Ben Hogan’s Pivot Compression from Wayne DeFrancesco in Part 1 of the series. 

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Wayne has been playing tournament golf for more than 40 years and teaching golf for over 27 years. He is the Director of Instruction at Lakewood CC in Rockville, Maryland and is founder of the Wayne Defrancesco Golf Learning Center (WDGLC). Wayne has spent countless hours analyzing some of the greatest golf legends both past and present in order to teach his Pivot Compression Golf Swing technique. Visit and you will spend hours watching FREE videos and reading articles created with the sole purpose to help people become the best golfers they can be. Become a better ball striker with Wayne's Pivot Compression Golf Swing DVD:



  1. DeadFish

    Aug 29, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    The first step is wrong and totally bias. At what point is shifting weight from the balls of your feel to the heel of your feet more controlled and balanced than keeping your weight on the heels the entire time? That makes no sense what so ever.

    How about not shifting weight at all from the balls of your feet to the heels. You shouldn’t be doing that at all. It should only be a lateral shift to the lead foot during the downswing. No other time should weight shift like that.

  2. emerson boozer

    Aug 25, 2016 at 1:57 am

    hi, mostly agree with all of this but with martial arts training they would argue not the balls of your feet as the center but somewhere in between the balls and heel. makes sense, from there you are more stable and can move tension free.

    • DeadFish

      Aug 29, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      I agree. I never understand why they say the balls of your feet. Doing so requires a lot more balance and coordination, and you’re much more likely to sway forward and back trying to find that balance planted feel.

  3. JP

    Aug 23, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    You think its complicated. It isn’t guys!!
    Just look at Hogan, Nicklaus and Woods.
    Lower their heads during the early part of the swing. Two do, one doesn’t!
    Get into their right side but keep their weight from going to the outside of the right foot. All do!
    Hogan gets “hip deep” in the backs wing, so deep in fact that he rotates his hips more than 45 degrees and so appears from front on, to be moving his right hip towards the target before his back swing is completed, when all that is really happening is his right hip is still rotating away from the target line.
    The real clue though to what many of the best Pros are ACTUALLY doing to achieve balance, proper turn and powerful release can be found by discarding all this theoretical BS [ Sorry Wayne ] and use your own eyes to see what they do.
    Both Hogan and Nicklaus set up with a slight “K”shape to their body at address with the straighter edge to the left side and concave side to the right side. During the first part of the backs wing this “K” shape is reversed, almost but not quite into a reverse tilt. If anything the left hip lowers and right hip rises. This allows the hips to rotate, right knee to remain bent and head to avoid rising up. It also keeps their sternum over the ball and maintains lateral spine angle to the ball.
    All that they need to do from the end of the back swing into the finish, is to move back into their address “K” position. So what moves most? The LOWER BODY. What did Hogan emphasize about the downswing? MOVE THE LOWER BODY!!! He didn’t say Hips, he said LOWER BODY!!
    So to describe what they do simply, their real movement is just a slight general body tilt to the right swinging the arms back, followed by a tilt back to the left and give the ball a wallop with the arms! All their other fine body motions are REACTIONS not ACTIONS.
    If you try to build a swing by practicing a series of sequenced separate body part actions, you will never fulfill your potential! Muscle memory is a myth!
    End of story!

  4. Steve Wozeniak

    Aug 23, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    If you can’t explain it simply…… don’t know it well enough……..

    • Jim

      Aug 24, 2016 at 1:44 am

      Lot easier to do in person! Video, kinesthetic aids and actually helping people see AND feel this by touching them. After I first broke my back (and things I hadn’t thought about in years just weren’t working like they used to) I was giving a lecture at a Teachers Conference on Sports Medicine – understanding golf Injuries, back problems and joint replacements. Bob Toski was on the card after me, and during lunch we were all out on the range demo-ing
      new products & goofy teaching aids. Toski knew I was
      working through recovering from 2 fx vertebrae & 3
      herniated discs and watched me hit a few shots.

      His diagnosis and HANDS ON tip to help was “Dammit Jimmie, you’re not turning your hip (enough) – I’m literally twice his weight and a foot taller – so this hyper, crazy little dude got behind me and grabbed a handful of my left hip
      pocket. He said “Ok make a back swing” as I turned he pushed and turned my left hip in maybe another 10 or so degrees of rotation (I used to get it before the injury but couldn’t feel I wasn’t ‘there’ now)…. then he says “Ok, give a little push back and unwind”. I pushed off and as I got my tailbone (I’d write coccyx – but don’t want Smiz to get all fired up) back to where it started, he yanked that handful of hip pocket back, cranking my hips at least 45 open – maybe
      twice what I was getting….

      In doing so, he shredded my pants…A tear from the left side of the zipper almost down to my knee – leaving me ‘hanging out all over the place’ about 15 min before my presentation – I wore my rain pants from golf bag…

      This crazy little man spun big ol’ me around – RESTORING a feeling (of a full unwinding I WAS capable of) I had lost after my injury – but most people have never felt to begin with…CREATING Centrifugal force by leading the unwinding with the left hip, so the left arm is ‘slung’ into and thru the downswing. Every very single student I’ve taught since that ONE day in 1996 that wasn’t doing right has gotten “The
      TOSKI” from me on their first lesson. Right after we
      analyze a few of their swings, show what they’re doing and then we start to implement changes….

      I’m just careful to grab onto their belt and pants waisrband (yup, ladies too) so I don’t shred their clothes!

      Most ‘slides’ stem from ‘throwing’ or ‘firing’ hips out from under the head – you wrote how the left side is unwinding ‘as hard as the right’ but this is predicated on the spine returning the tilt it had at address BACK to where it started, when just shoving hips usually more than doubles the tilt and leaves too much upper body too far back…

      We’re explaining this differently, but honestly, I have found that more people have more problems leading with the right
      side than the left….a weight shift from the right foot driving the entire body – just back off the right foot SO the left side can take over the ‘winch’ as sokn as the left foot feels the weight coming back – isn’t sliding….All these moves we’ve all described are subject to people doing them SOMEWHAT correctly – but too much OR too little of one or two of these “moves” will of course – screw it up, so, yes. It is hard to write about it in great detail to give the reader the best possible chance to execute it properly…

      • emerson boozer

        Aug 25, 2016 at 1:54 am

        if you’ve read this far, please tl:dr.

  5. Dave

    Aug 23, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Yup the smiz got it rjght.

    • Jack Gallagher

      Aug 23, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      I have to say I don’t agree. We all know in our hearts, as we yearn to lower our handicaps, that the tour pros are doing something that we’re not, and the conventional lessons from the local-course pro clearly don’t provide all the information about what the pros do differently. And so our handicaps tend to plateau, don’t they. How many times have you been instructed to keep your head perfectly still throughout the swing – don’t “dip”? Aren’t you the least bit curious why it is that most pros on the tour actually do “dip” on all of their shots through the bag? It’s not just Hogan. It’s Nelson (even more so than Hogan), Nicklaus, Miller, Watson, Trevino, Player, Els, Garcia, Faldo, Price, McIlroy, Westwood (who himself was seen on Golf Channel recommending keeping your head at the same level as address, but doesn’t swing that way), Woods. The list goes on.

      • Jim

        Aug 23, 2016 at 6:14 pm

        …I tell everyone “keep your head still is about the worst tip of all time”….rarely do we see it remain still and achieve a good backswing positions with our clients…I’ve cut hcps in half, gotten a bunch of students to 0-2, but, they’re the exception. Most are happy breaking 90. The serious ones, with some time to stay with lessons and actual practice – rather than playing twice without any range time other than ‘warm up balls – can break 80.

        I don’t teach anyone the ‘same swing’… just the same principles. It’s about what they want to achieve. Win the club championship – or the 3rd flite, or just be pain free and hit a little better..

        • Jim

          Aug 24, 2016 at 2:09 am

          There’s a great old adage about a member coming into the pro and complaining his lessons weren’t working well enough. He said he wanted him to teach him to swing like Snead….The pro asked “can you bend over from your waist and touch your palms on the floor?” The member said “well, no”, then the pro asked “can you jump up on top of this desk from where you’re standing?” The guy says “of course not!”

          So the pro says “Well then you can’t swing like Sam.”

          Hogan had an unusual physique. All the “people” we want to ‘copy’ are special. They’re the top 1% of golfers. Even big guys – a bulky muscular Hal Sutton – a bulkier John Daly – or Ernie Els, just a flat out big guy all do stuff the majority of folks can’t (or shouldn’t even try) to do.

          My ‘personal Swing Philosophy’ probably was the most significant project I wrote for my entire PGA GPTP program. It made me consolidate what was important. I closed with a Hogan reference “most golf professionals are lousy teachers. You can stand there and tell your dog to something – it doesn’t need to know why you want him to do it, but in order for students to truly improve they need to understand why you need them to do something (differently).

          • Jack Gallagher

            Aug 25, 2016 at 1:55 pm

            Yet Jim, and I mean this respectfully, Hogan said that he saw no reason why the average man in reasonably good physical condition couldn’t learn to swing the way experts like him swung it. I’m fairly certain that I read that in “Five Lessons.” He didn’t consider himself an exceptional athlete (though I think he was) – he claimed his brother Royal was a better athlete. Royal apparently was an excellent golfer as well, but was content as a successful amateur. [If there is any footage of Royal striking a golf ball, I’d love to see it.]

            Mimicking a particular pro’s golf swing, admittedly, is not the same thing as swinging precisely the same way he swings.

            However, without the video analysis provided by Wayne DeFrancesco, one really cannot fully appreciate the “how” of his method of a rotary swing. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Jim, about the difficulty of writing about technique as opposed to the hands-on approach on a lesson tee – actually showing a student what to try to accomplish (and I’m not a pro; I’m a student). I’ve had an in-person lesson from Wayne, and he pulled my left pocket around too (I’m referencing your Bob Toski story in a different thread, above).

            In my opinion, the video analysis has two points of value. The first is that it shows some things that one can attempt to aspire to (your referenced rotary tail bone action in your Bob Toski story is right there on the film of Hogan). The second is that it dispels myths. Take the myth of “Hogan had a flat swing.” Well, not really. Wayne’s down-the-line view video shows him erect at address, but that doesn’t last long into the back swing, as his posture becomes a lot more “bent over” and his shoulders a lot steeper. Yes, his harms swing across his chest more than most, with his hands not going up and above/over his right shoulder. Yet, his shaft is perfectly on plane at let-arm-parallel-to-ground in the back swing; it is virtually if not entirely on plane at the top, and gets slightly laid off in transition (slightly flatter), but only for an instant. His shoulders, having steepened in the back-swing, remain just as steep if not steeper through the rotation of the down swing until after impact. The “effect” on the shaft just after the flattening phenomenon in transition is that it gets progressively steeper, such that at impact it has returned to the address plane. He slings the club aggressively leftward after impact, never attempting to swing the club-head “down the target line” at all (and for the initial few video frames, post-impact, the shaft is actually slightly under the address plane!), which is likely an effect caused in part by his hip rotation to the left (just like Bob Toski’s pulling on your hip pocket). It is also likely an effect in part resulting from the fact that his shoulders are still steep – through impact and after – and he has quite a bit of “side bend”; in fact he has more, way more, side bend than you might predict when seeing how erect he stood originally at address.

            Without Wayne’s analysis of the footage (with a stationary camera in a down-the-line view) in slow motion, and with Wayne drawing lines on the screen on his website for proof, I wouldn’t have believed that Hogan did any of that which I just described. It is all a blur when viewed at full speed, given Hogan’s relatively quick 21/7 tempo (21 frames of video to the top of the back swing and 7 frames to impact). His swing at full speed does indeed to “appear to be flat” the first few times you see it on video – until you actually scrutinize it. But it’s not a “flat swing” at all. That’s a myth dispelled by Wayne’s analysis. It’s a swing in which the shaft spends a great deal of time precisely on plane. It’s a swing where his spine starts out fairly erect at address, but which changes early in the back swing to become perpendicular to the address plane and remains perpendicular to that address plane until well after the ball is away.

            Is it difficult to get a student to attempt to make changes so as to do some of these things? I’m living proof that it is very difficult indeed. Some things you can look at over, and over, and still ask, how is he doing that? But there is value for a student like me watching the video and the lines being drawn, in that it shows me “that” Hogan is doing “X” and that I need to consider that I ought to try making changes via drills, etc. in order to approach doing “X” as well, which can be seen/audited with still-camera video of my own swing. When the video of my own swing shows that I’m still failing to do “X”, then a conversation can begin about the possible reasons, and drills can be recommended to attempt make changes. I’m not claiming this is a substitute for in-person lessons. Not at all.

            But, respectfully, I’m getting more mileage in between in-person lessons by creating video of my own swing, auditing it against what I’m aspiring to, and then, post-new-drill practicing, going back and creating additional video and auditing once again. Video is also excellent (and seemingly a requirement for me) for filming drill sessions on the range, because it helps a lot to audit that footage as well, to see if I’m doing the dang drill correctly! It sucks to do a drill wrong after a lesson and then proceed to ingrain some new “wrong move” until my next lesson. The video stops that nonsense in its tracks.

            • Jim

              Aug 25, 2016 at 10:52 pm

              Mr. G – I wish I had a few more folks with your practice ethic & making sure “your practice has purpose” by double checking swings every so often in a single session. Every Instructor has watched ‘the wheels come off – after 3-6 really good swings! After the first one or two I don’t say anything, but after the 3rd I
              might say “this time try and do that xyz thing a little better”. If that (always a SMALL suggestion) doesn”t revert it back to one of the better swings from just 2 minutes ago I’l say. “Ok..stop…come watch this, and tell me what YOU see”..
              We’ll look at the different swings side by side – I use 3 High Speed HD cameras and a seperate 3D program with all the biometric measurements.

              Visual learners do well with both seeing and ‘hands on’ manipulation while true kinesthetic learners want
              the hands on much more than the video and will often say “I don’t want to see it” – even when I want to show them ‘how good’ those other swings were…

              I teach a lot of foks with disabilities injuries and/or missing limbs. With my medical background and personal history of injuries / rehab & relearning to swing a couple of times I’ve always seek out every students strengths / weaknesses or vulnerable areas I need to protect. When starting a one armed player we’ll do backhand & forehand for several sessions & I’ll give them both clubs to borrow for a while til we establish which way they feel more comfortable….A few that stuck with golf ended up with mixed sets. Driver & distance clubs are almost always longer when hit backhand while the accuracy clubs 8? down tend to hit better forehanded…why bring that up? When swinging backhanded it’s more consistent for MORE people and produces more distance shifting off the back foot and unwinding from the front hip…

              I’m saying in my 20th year of teaching professionally I’m pretty convinced by the variety of students I’ve had – from WWE/NHL/NFL/NBA, HS & College players to the profoundly disabled (and frankly some simply unathletic/uncoordinated folks) that it is easier & and just as powerful to unwind from the front and create centrifugal force than the right. No disrespect intended to anyone. Thanks for reading and I wish you continued success 🙂 if you’re ever near NYC – look me up if you can. My treat

  6. Chuck Zellner

    Aug 23, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I have had the pleasure of being a member of Wayne Defrancesco’s website for the last year. I have learned more about the golf swing in the last year from him than in my previous 20 years playing golf combined. Wayne is an excellent instructor and player. I would recommend any golfer to go to his website if they want to learn about the swing and improve. I’ve also taken in person lessons twice with Wayne. I’ve travelled to Florida and Maryland just to see him because he’s worth it. I highly recommend Wayne. He will help you without any quick fixes or gimmicks. He’s great.

    • Nathan

      Aug 23, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      How much did your average score drop in the last year while working with Wayne. From what to what?

      • Chuck Zellner

        Aug 24, 2016 at 11:36 am

        Hey Nathan, I went from like a struggling 10 to like an 8.5 now. I know that doesn’t sound like much but I truly feel that I’m on the verge of really knocking some shots off. I was as low as a 7 a couple months ago but as I continue to work on things, my handicap seems to go up and then go down past where it started. The reason I sent my initial post is because I believe Wayne has a lot of unique material you won’t see anywhere else. I just wanted to give him support because I think he could help a lot of folks. I think people try to oversimplify things in the golf swing. It’s very hard to make changes because the swing is very complicated.

        • Nathan

          Aug 24, 2016 at 3:39 pm

          While I don’t agree that the swing is very complicated. I do appreciate your response and am glad you’re knocking strokes off.

  7. Sam

    Aug 23, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Now I know why most people dont improve in golf.

  8. nathan

    Aug 23, 2016 at 7:50 am

    100% agree with Smiz on this one.

    Not sure why golf is taught this way…baffles me.

    • Scott

      Aug 23, 2016 at 9:20 am

      I am glad that I was not the only one confused.

    • Scott

      Aug 23, 2016 at 9:25 am

      This article should come with a warning sign “This may be hazardous to your golf swing”. BTW, I know someone who has worked with Wayne. He can not get out of his own way. His pre-shot routine can be timed with a calendar. He has to review all of the positions in his head before he swings. The results are very mixed at best, and he has been doing this system for years.

  9. Ooffa

    Aug 22, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Had some good experiences with lessons? Don’t be so upset sitting at that hard 15 handicap.

    • tiger

      Aug 23, 2016 at 6:25 am

      Sorry but I’ve seen MSmizzle play and he is at a hard 21 not a 15….

  10. mr b

    Aug 22, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    could use videos and drills to engrain 2-4. really been working on these to eliminate early extension but much easier said than done!

  11. moco

    Aug 22, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Spot on, watch video of nick price in his prime, some of the best strikers float the right heel forward a bit.

  12. Mark

    Aug 21, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    I’ll pass. I know a lot of people who have Hogan’s book and gave up trying to swing like him because they simply didn’t have Hogan’s ability.

  13. T-Bone

    Aug 21, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    May I suggest that the lowering of the body’s Center of Mass, or “pivot compression” as you call it, is a natural reaction to the requirement for the CoM to be closer to the ball at impact, since the distance from the body’s CoM to the club-head’s CoM is reduced when the right arm is bent at impact from its extended position at address. The movement of the pelvis toward the golfer’s posterior, or “deepening as you call it, is also a natural reaction-a counter-balancing movement to maintain balance-the body’s CoM centered over the feet, heel-to-toe.

  14. M oofa

    Aug 20, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Cool article and such a simple swing drill
    With the shaft. Thanks!!

  15. ooffa

    Aug 20, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Enough already with this Hogan guy already. Is this the same Hogan that took down Gawker? He looks much slimmer in black and white.

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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!

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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



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The Wedge Guy: Anyone can be a better wedge player by doing these simple things



As someone who has observed rank-and-file recreational golfers for most of my life – over 50 years of it, anyway – I have always been baffled by why so many mid- to high-handicap golfers throw away so many strokes in prime scoring range.

For this purpose, let’s define “prime scoring range” as the distance when you have something less than a full-swing wedge shot ahead of you. Depending on your strength profile, that could be as far as 70 to 80 yards or as close as 30 to 40 yards. But regardless of whether you are trying to break par or 100, your ability to get the ball on the green and close enough to the hole for a one-putt at least some of the time will likely be one of the biggest factors in determining your score for the day.

All too often, I observe golfers hit two or even three wedge shots from prime scoring range before they are on the green — and all too often I see short-range pitch shots leave the golfer with little to no chance of making the putt.

This makes no sense, as attaining a level of reasonable proficiency from short range is not a matter of strength profile at all. But it does take a commitment to learning how to make a repeating and reliable half-swing and doing that repeatedly and consistently absolutely requires you to learn the basic fundamentals of how the body has to move the club back and through the impact zone.

So, let’s get down to the basics to see if I can shed some light on these ultra-important scoring shots.

  • Your grip has to be correct. For the club to move back and through correctly, your grip on the club simply must be fundamentally sound. The club is held primarily in the last three fingers of the upper hand, and the middle two fingers of the lower hand. Period. The lower hand has to be “passive” to the upper hand, or the mini-swing will become a quick jab at the ball. For any shot, but particularly these short ones, that sound grip is essential for the club to move through impact properly and repeatedly.
  • Your posture has to be correct. This means your body is open to the target, feet closer together than even a three-quarter swing, and the ball positioned slightly back of center.
  • Your weight should be distributed about 70 percent on your lead foot and stay there through the mini-swing.
  • Your hands should be “low” in that your lead arm is hanging naturally from your shoulder, not extended out toward the ball and not too close to the body to allow a smooth turn away and through. Gripping down on the club is helpful, as it gets you “closer to your work.
  • This shot is hit with a good rotation of the body, not a “flip” or “jab” with the hands. Controlling these shots with your body core rotation and leading the swing with your body core and lead side will almost ensure proper contact. To hit crisp pitch shots, the hands have to lead the clubhead through impact.
  • A great drill for this is to grip your wedge with an alignment rod next to the grip and extending up past your torso. With this in place, you simply have to rotate your body core through the shot, as the rod will hit your lead side and prevent you from flipping the clubhead at the ball. It doesn’t take but a few practice swings with this drill to give you an “ah ha” moment about how wedge shots are played.
  • And finally, understand that YOU CANNOT HIT UP ON A GOLF BALL. The ball is sitting on the ground so the clubhead has to be moving down and through impact. I think one of the best ways to think of this is to remember this club is “a wedge.” So, your simple objective is to wedge the club between the ball and the ground. The loft of the wedge WILL make the ball go up, and the bounce of the sole of the wedge will prevent the club from digging.

So, why is mastering the simple pitch shot so important? Because my bet is that if you count up the strokes in your last round of golf, you’ll likely see that you left several shots out there by…

  • Either hitting another wedge shot or chip after having one of these mid-range pitch shots, or
  • You did not get the mid-range shot close enough to even have a chance at a makeable putt.

If you will spend even an hour on the range or course with that alignment rod and follow these tips, your scoring average will improve a ton, and getting better with these pitch shots will improve your overall ball striking as well.

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