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A Simple Drill to Help Strike the Ball Solid

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The hip-height-to-hip-height swing drill has helped many golfers achieve solid contact in a very short amount of time. In this article, I’m going to explain why you should practice this simple motion and how to do it to see your ball striking improve.

Doing this simple hip-height-to-hip-height swing motion can help you learn the tempo of your swing while improving many other aspects of your swing simultaneously.

Gaining control and developing confidence in your short swing is an excellent way to improve and imperative if you want to decrease your score. My instructional preference is to encourage the beginner or struggling golfer to practice brushing the ground in the same place every time, which develops control and fluency.

Set upMPA TOP fundamental in golf is being able to brush the ground in the same place every time. Gaining control over this shorter motion will build a huge amount of confidence into your golf game. It is also just as important as the more often practiced full swing.

The hip-height-to-hip-height golf swing helps golfers attack different aspects of their game with more assurance. Better balance, weight distribution, setup, grip and just getting comfortable over the golf ball are just a few of the benefits in making this motion correctly (stay tuned for tips and videos on those aspects of the game). It’s a necessary part of your game to focus on.

BSMPFT1What’s awesome about mastering this type of motion is that it lends itself to making a good full swing for longer shots. In fact, beginning golfers progress swiftly in this drill because they are typically relaxed. They often begin with little grip pressure and tension, so their swing automatically becomes longer after practicing the hip-to-hip swing.

BSFTThe hip-height-to-hip-height motion also allows you to effectively move the bottom of your golf swing forward and sweep the ball off the ground. Doing the drill, you will feel the weight of the golf club and get used to controlling the face and path on your shorter shots.

WingThe picture above is usually the “before picture” with many of my students, and the picture below is the “after.” This simple drill will get you hitting the ball solid every time!

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Jess Frank is a PGA Teaching Professional at Deer Creek Golf Club in Deerfield Beach, Florida. He's owner of the Jess Frank Golf Academy, and his passion is to help golfers play better and have more fun on the course. Students have described his instruction style as non-intimidating, friendly and easy to understand. Jess works with every level of golfer, and his lesson tee includes complete beginners and high-level golfers. Playing lessons are also a very important part of his lesson program. His greatest joy is seeing his students smile and get excited about playing golf! Please feel free to email him at [email protected] or contact him directly at 561-213-8579.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Bert

    Sep 3, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Nice well-written article, I used to practice this way and have become lazy in my old age. I intend to restart this routine slowly and make it a habit again.

  2. Doug Ferreri

    Sep 2, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Nice rendition of what Paul Bertholy, PGA taught me in 1980

  3. HeineyLite

    Sep 1, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Wow, a bunch of arm chair golf instructors!!!! Mr. Frank is only giving his opinion on what he thinks is a great drill. Leave it at that, try it, and if you don’t like it stop. Modern golf is here and we should all learn from it… Plus Mr. Frank is a professional… WELL DONE JF…

  4. Andrew Cooper

    Aug 31, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Good article and a great drill for all golfers. Its really effective because of its simplicity. Its amazing that some can’t take this drill without throwing in talk of power levers, zero spine bend, P3, P4, stacked etc.
    Just swing the club back and through and aim to brush the ground in a consistent spot. Your body will figure it out. Don’t try to throw your weight around or keep it rooted in one spot, don’t try to hinge your wrists or keep them stiff. Just swing the weight of the club back and through and let your body support and coordinate itself with the swinging motion. As the author says, get a feel for the weight of the club and develop control over the face and path and you can’t go wrong with this.

    • 4right

      Sep 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      When you go thru a session with an instructor that uses technology especially “Gears” you have those terms. That is modern golf and that is what most tour pros are doing. Try it sometime.

    • Dan

      Sep 22, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      Very well said, Andrew – I can’t agree enough. I have been fortunate enough to play golf since I was 5. I’m an engineer in life, but I’ve always enjoyed myself more on the golf course, and been more successful, when I don’t get too technical. Maybe it has it’s place for those trying to tour for a living, but not for the rest of us.
      Jess, thanks so much for a well written explanation of a simple, but important drill. One that I have forgotten by middle age, but will definitely benefit myself and my kids, whom I’m trying to get into the game.

  5. Skip

    Aug 31, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    That “before” pic though LOL. C’mon, nobody swings like that. Even a rank beginner wouldn’t be swinging with the hands connected to the chest.

  6. Mike

    Aug 30, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you will try it tomorrow 🙂

  7. Billy

    Aug 30, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Great drill, Jess, but should you practice it with all the clubs from wedge to driver but only clipping the rubber range tee with the driver? Or should you stick to the shorter irons?
    Which club do you start with for beginners; the heavy wedge or the lighter 7-iron?
    Also, how often should beginners practice this drill each day and how many repetitions for muscle memory and confidence to take hold? Thanks.

    • Jess Frank

      Aug 31, 2017 at 7:32 am

      Hey Billy! Thanks for your note! I like to use a pitching wedge with beginner golfers off of a tee to produce solid contact and confidence. Yes, you can use any club but I recommend 7 iron to wedge to see the flight of the golf ball. You can practice this drill every day for the rest of your golfing life:)

      • AV

        Aug 31, 2017 at 11:19 am

        In my observations, ‘golfer’ and ‘practice’ is an oxymoron. Attempting to ‘practice’ with an inadequate body is not only frustrating it’s self-defeating. So the ‘golfer’ just hits a bucket of balls on the range and is ‘ready’ to conquer the golf course.
        Only serious and committed golfer train and practice because they know their game needs constant maintenance. Very few take an athletic approach to golf and are just satisfied having ‘fun’.

        • chipin

          Aug 31, 2017 at 5:43 pm

          sooooo obvious, You are being a fool!

        • Boss

          Sep 1, 2017 at 3:33 am

          Must be fun to lose so many balls every round, eh AV? Is it really that fun to lose that many balls?

  8. Bill

    Aug 30, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Great drill explained well. The other name for this drill is the 9 to 3 drill. Great for warming up after a bit of a layoff. And the drill as mentioned always progresses to a longer swing perfect for all irons.

  9. Oppai

    Aug 30, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Yeah but you’re stacked. Try doing that without stacking your left side and then tell us how the striking is for your students. I bet they don’t have enough coordination for this drill without keeping both their feet down, so how is that going to help with the whole swing? It’s only going to hurt their bodies

    • Rors

      Aug 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Being stacked is the best way in not hurting your body. The more the spine extends in the backswing, the power levers remain constant… Thus the spine has less rotational drag moving back and forth. Read the “golfing machine” by Homer Kelley…

      • SportsMed

        Aug 30, 2017 at 2:25 pm

        Very well put Rors’… Your spine at address in forward bend shouldn’t stay there at P3 or P4. The spine should go to zero at the point. Extension… This drill is very simple and should be very easy even for a novice player… Great drill Mr. Frank

        • Jess Frank

          Aug 30, 2017 at 8:37 pm

          Thank you very much SportsMed and Rors! Is this the real Rory McIlroy:)) Sports med I have always loved this drill for almost 20 years of teaching golf:)) Happy to share it with the Golfwrx world:) All levels of players get great results:)

      • LoBlo

        Aug 31, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        Yeah until their ribs hurt, the back hurts, the ankle hurts, and can’t hit their driver, and they all end up quitting stack like the entire Tour. Brilliant.

        • HiRoad

          Sep 1, 2017 at 12:12 pm

          I guess you’ve never seen a video from athletic motion golf. A vast majority of touring professionals are stacked… Even back in Hogans day…

          • LoBlo

            Sep 2, 2017 at 3:40 am

            But we don’t recall them as legends. Name some, if you would, please

        • Frankie

          Sep 2, 2017 at 4:52 pm

          I wish I could provide you with 3D evidence to prove you so wrong, the average PGA Tour player at the top has their pelvis tilt 10 degrees TOWARDS the target (meaning right hip is higher than left hip) at the top of the backswing along with their thorax side tilt 35-40 degrees toward the target as well. These actions can’t happen without extension, the thorax bend at address actually goes to nearly 0, meaning almost vertical and the pelvis bend goes from 20 to 10-15 at the top of the backswing. I have a K-Vest 3D and the numbers are there, it is impossible to maintain thorax and pelvis bend and have 0 side tilt in the backswing, the head goes so far back and down, literally behind the back foot and chest level from address at the top. But as always, you will just refute clear evidence and stick to your own completely made-up beliefs with no evidence

    • RonaldRump

      Aug 30, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Hence the point of the drill!!! If you set your weight into the right side you’re not making a functional swing…

    • Jess Frank

      Aug 30, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      Thanks for your comments Oppai! I really appreciate the feedback! Students get better and gain confidence quickly in my experience on the lesson tee. In fact, just had a student struggling big time and used this drill and they started to hit a high draw. May not apply to everyone but I know it works!:) Thanks again!

      • stephenf

        Aug 31, 2017 at 11:04 am

        I have yet to see a student who wasn’t helped by this drill, and most are helped a _lot_. As for being “stacked,” we need to quit being locked into modern-era jargon. If you’re making a part swing like this, there’s not a lot of body movement anyway. And drills don’t necessarily mimic, and aren’t obligated to mimic, every movement in a full-effort swing.

        Bottom line, it’s a helluva good drill, no question.

      • AV

        Aug 31, 2017 at 11:22 am

        You gotta crawl before you can walk, and talk, like a true golfer. Every good golfer has suffered immensely to achieve his game. True?!

      • chipin

        Aug 31, 2017 at 5:42 pm

        Soooo Obvious you have no idea what you are talking about!

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: Short game tempo

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One of my favorite things to do is observe golfers closely, watching how they go about things from well before the shot to the execution of the swing or stroke. Guess the golf course has become kind of like going to the lab, in a way.

One thing I notice much too often is how “quick” most golfers are around the greens. It starts with grabbing a club or two from the cart and quickly getting to their ball. Then a few short jabs at a practice swing and usually a less-than-stellar result at a recovery.

Why?

If you are going to spend a morning or afternoon on the course, why hurry around the greens? I tend to be a fast player and despise five-hour rounds, but don’t fault anyone for taking a few seconds extra to get “right” with their recovery shot. You can still play “ready golf” and not short yourself in the close attention to execution. But let me get back to the specific topic.

Maybe it’s aggravated by this rush, but most golfers I observe have a short game tempo that is too quick. Chips, pitches and recoveries are precision swings at less than full power, so they require a tempo that is slower than you might think to accommodate that precision. They are outside the “norm” of a golf swing, so give yourself several practice swings to get a feel for the tempo and power that needs to be applied to the shot at hand.

I also think this quick tempo is a result of the old adage “accelerate through the ball.” We’ve all had that pounded into our brains since we started playing, but my contention is that it is darn hard not to accelerate . . . it’s a natural order of the swing. But to mentally focus on that idea tends to produce a short, choppy swing, with no rhythm or precision. So, here’s a practice drill for you.

  1. Go to your practice range, the local ball field, schoolyard or anywhere you can safely hit golf balls 20-30 yards or less.
  2. Pick a target only 30-50 feet away and hit your normal pitch, observing the trajectory.
  3. Then try to hit each successive ball no further, but using a longer, more flowing, fluid swing motion than the one before. That means you’ll make the downswing slower and slower each time, as you are moving the club further and further back each time.

My bet is that somewhere in there you will find a swing length and tempo where that short pitch shot becomes much easier to hit, with better loft and spin, than your normal method.

The key to this is to move the club with the back and through rotation of your body core, not just your arms and hands. This allows you to control tempo and applied power with the big muscles, for more consistency.

Try this and share with all of us if it doesn’t open your eyes to a different way of short game success.

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The Wedge Guy: The core cause of bad shots

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You are cruising through a round of golf, hitting it pretty good and then you somehow just hit an absolutely terrible shot? This isn’t a problem unique to recreational golfers trying to break 80, 90, or 100 — even the best tour professionals occasionally hit a shot that is just amazingly horrible, given their advanced skill levels.

It happens to all of us — some more frequently than others — but I’m convinced the cause is the same. I call it “getting sloppy.”

So, what do I mean by that?

Well, there was a USGA advertising campaign a while back feature Arnold Palmer, with the slogan “Swing Your Swing.” There’s a lot of truth to that advice, as we all have a swing that has — either frequently or occasionally – produced outstanding golf shots. While there is no substitute for solid mechanics and technique, I’ve always believed that if you have ever hit a truly nice golf shot, then your swing has the capacity to repeat that result more frequently than you experience.

The big question is: “Why can’t I do that more often?”

And the answer is: Because you don’t approach every shot with the same care and caution that you exhibit when your best shots are executed.

To strike a golf ball perfectly, the moon and stars have to be aligned, regardless of what your swing looks like. Your set-up position must be right. Your posture and alignment have to be spot-on. Ball position has to be precisely perfect. To get those things correct takes focused attention to each detail. But the good news is that doing so only takes a few seconds of your time before each shot.

But I know from my own experience, the big “disrupter” is not having your mind right before you begin your swing. And that affects all of these pre-shot fundamentals as well as the physical execution of your swing.
Did you begin your pre-shot approach with a vivid picture of the shot you are trying to hit? Is your mind cleared from what might have happened on the last shot or the last hole? Are you free from the stress of this crazy game, where previous bad shots cause us to tighten up and not have our mind free and ready for the next shot? All those things affect your ability to get things right before you start your swing . . . and get in the way of “swinging your swing.”

So, now that I’ve outlined the problem, what’s the solution?

Let me offer you some ideas that you might incorporate into your own routine for every shot, so that you can get more positive results from whatever golf swing skills you might have.

Clear your mind. Whatever has happened in the round of golf to this point is history. Forget it. This next shot is all that matters. So, clear that history of prior shots and sharpen your focus to the shot at hand.

Be precise in your fundamentals. Set-up, posture, alignment and ball position are crucial to delivering your best swing. Pay special attention to all of these basics for EVERY shot you hit, from drives to putts.

Take Dead Aim. That was maybe the most repeated and sage advice from Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book”. And it may be the most valuable advice ever. Poor alignment and aim sets the stage for bad shots, as “your swing” cannot be executed if you are pointed incorrectly.

See it, feel it, trust it. Another piece of great advice from the book and movie, “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days In Utopia”, by Dr. David Cook. Your body has to have a clear picture of the shot you want to execute in order to produce the sequence of movements to do that.

Check your grip pressure and GO. The stress of golf too often causes us to grip the club too tightly. And that is a swing killer. Right before you begin your swing, focus your mind on your grip pressure to make sure it isn’t tighter than your normal pressure.

It’s highly advisable to make these five steps central to your pre-shot routine, but especially so if you get into a bad stretch of shots. You can change things when that happens, but it just takes a little work to get back to the basics.

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Stickney: To stack or not to stack at impact?

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As you look at the impact positions of the best players in the world, you will find many different “looks” with respect to their body and club positions. Some of these impact positions might even appear unique, but don’t be fooled. They all have one thing in common: preserving the players’ balance throughout the impact interval! In fact, if you are not in-balance, then you will lose power, consistency, and have trouble controlling your launch dynamics from shot to shot.

This balance is a necessary key to playing well and one area that can be easily understood with a few graphics shown on GEARS 3D. As you examine the photo in the featured image, you can see a few things:

  • The player on the left has “fallen” backwards through impact slightly moving his head out of the circle established at address
  • The player on the right is more stacked at impact — meaning that his chest, zipper and hands are all in the same place at the same time (within reason)
  • The player on the left has reached this same position in the swing with different segments of the body reaching the ball at different times
  • There will be a difference of impact shaft lean between the two players due to one player reaching impact “together” and the other shoving his hands more forward as he falls back
  • The player on the right is more “connected” through impact…won’t be the longest hitter but will be able to find the ball in the fairway more often
  • The player on the left is putting more pressure on the rear portion of the lower back which could have a potential for injury if he’s not careful

Now, obviously there are pro and cons to both positions. Overall, if you want to be consistent and in-balance more often that not, I would suggest you try your best to focus on being “stacked” when you hit the ball.

Let’s dive in a touch deeper to show you what happens physiologically on 3D when you fall back through impact and I think it will really drive the point home.

  • At address notice the Vertical Spine Number 96.2, this is showing us where the spine is positioned at address
  • You can see the head is in the center of the bubble

  • On the way to the top of the swing you can see that the spine has moved “away” from the target laterally a slight bit to 98 degrees
  • The head has dropped downward and has also moved laterally as well- more lean over the right leg to the top

Now here is where the problem comes in…as you work your way to the top, it’s ok of your head moves a touch laterally but in transition if it stays “back” while your hips run out from under you then you will begin to fall backwards on the way to your belt-high delivery position.

  • We can see at the delivery position that the spine has continued to fall backwards as the hips rotate out from under the upperbody
  • When this happens the hands will begin to push forward- dragging the handle into the impact zone
  • Whenever you have too much spin out and fall back the hands move forward to accommodate this motion and this reduces your Angle of Attack and decreases your dynamic loft at impact
  • This will cause balls to be hit on the decent of the club’s arc and reduce loft making shots come out lower than normal with a higher spin rate and that means shorter drives

Now let’s examine impact…

  • The player on the left has reached impact in a more disconnected fashion versus the player on the right as you compare the two
  • The player on the right has a shaft lean at impact that is less than a degree (.75) while the player on the left has a much more noticeable forward lean of the shaft thereby reducing dynamic loft at impact

  • The player on the left’s spine has moved from 96.2 to 112.9, a difference of 16.7 degrees while the player on the right has only moved back a few degrees. We know this because his head has stayed in the bubble we charted at address
  • The hips have run out from under the player on the left in the downswing and this causes the head to fall back more, the hands to push forward more, and the impact alignments of the club to be too much down with very little dynamic loft (as also shown in the photo below)

Whenever the hips turn out from under the upper body then you will tend to have a “falling back effect of the spine and a pushing forward of the hands” through impact.  Notice how the hips are radically more open on the player on the right versus the left- 27.91 versus 42.42 degrees.

So, now that we can see what happens when the hips spin out, you fall back, and you fail to be “stacked” at impact let’s show you a simple way you can do this at home to alleviate this issue.

  

  • A great drill to focus on being more stacked at impact is to make slow motion swings with the feeling that the upper portion of your arms stay glued to your chest
  • These shots will be full swings but only 20% of your total power because the goal here is connection which allows everything to reach impact together and in-balance
  • The second thought as you make these swings is to pay attention to your head, if you can focus on allowing it to stay “over the top of the ball” at impact you will find that it will stay put a touch more so than normal. Now this is not exactly how it works but it’s a good feeling nonetheless
  • Once you get the feeling at 20% speed work your way up to 50% speed and repeat the process. If you can do it here then you are ready to move up to full swings at top speed

Finally, don’t forget that every golfer’s hips will be open at impact and everyone’s head will fall back a touch — this is fine. Just don’t over-do it! Fix this and enjoy finding the ball in the fairway more often than not.

Questions or comments? [email protected]

 

 

 

 

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