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The Science of Square: Is a wrist position at the top like DJ better for your swing?

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I recently wrote an article called “The Science of Square: Understanding the relationship between the wrist and the club face,” about the wrist action during the swing and what happens when you change conditions from address to the top, and how that affects the club face. In addition, I suggested that the average golfer plays from a more square condition at the top, rather than one that is radically shut (i.e. Dustin Johnson). I did not say that the average player could not play from a slightly shut condition, but remember, compensations have to occur.

However, there has been a growing number of better players who have had wonderful success playing from conditions at the top that range from slightly shut to super-shut. Think about the swings of John Rahm, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, and Dustin Johnson at the top.

So in this article, let’s examine the shut club face position at the top using Hack Motion’s Wrist Sensor so you can see how the wrist action changes when this type of position occurs during the swing. I took a few sample swings with the new “modern” swing… slightly stronger grip working into a flexed lead wrist at the top, which causes the shut face at the top like DJ. Here is what we saw…

At address we see that the wrist in the stronger position possesses 32 degrees of extension, or cupping at address, which is common with stronger grips showing more knuckles.

At the top I moved from 32 degrees of extension to -12 degrees of flexion a change of 52 degrees from address to the top. I will tell you that moving your wrist from extended to flexed is hard enough and to do so like DJ is superhuman!

Now here is where it gets interesting… in the chest-high position on the way down I still possess -7 degrees of flexion, meaning the club now swinging from the inside has a face that is slightly shut. These two things together will cause the ball to move from the right to the left easier because I won’t have to think about the “release.”

Above is the delivery position around belt-high, the lead wrist is still into flexion and will also deloft the club and deliver some extra shaft lean coming into the ball. Great for players with a ton of speed.

Impact (above) for me is with a neutral lead wrist, which means that the club was delivered with solid impact alignments. But why isn’t mine flexed more at impact? Because with my lack of Tour Quality Swing Speed, I simply cannot get the ball to go high enough or stay in the air long enough to work for me, thus, I have to hit the ball in a more neutral impact position. This is one of the biggest reasons why this position will not work for players without higher than normal swing speeds.

In fact, many great teachers feel that this has merits for the slower swing speeds as well, but with a caveat. Brian Manzella, a Golf Digest Top-50 Teacher and a Golf Magazine Top-100 Teacher, says

“To me, all club faces are open at the top relative to the target, so armed with a stronger grip, the face is less open during the swing. This helps some slicers by giving them less to close by the time of impact, and helps some good players hitting fades easier at high speed, by unwinding their bodies more and having their hands more forward at impact. However, the main advantage for folks with more neutral top of the backswing positions, is that if your wrist is flexed late, you can start to go toward extension to add speed and still have forward lean at impact.”

Basically he’s saying that for neutral players, if you have some bowing of the left wrist within your deliver position, you can get away with some “throw” at the bottom and still have solid impact!

The bottom line is that you must figure out what position works best for you and your game. For me, I play better from a more neutral position due to my lack of speed, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying the stronger grip and more shut position at the top; heck it just might be YOUR key to success.

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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]

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. BooBoo

    Sep 18, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Either bow it (DJ) or cup it (Hogan) but don’t neutral it (Tom?!?) unless you want two way misses and failing under pressure even when you practice hours every day…

  2. op

    Sep 15, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Stinkney floods the forum with superficial tips and ignores questioning and accountability.

    • op

      Sep 16, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      Stinkney just waits until his article falls off the main website page. Wotta woose

  3. stevet

    Sep 13, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Tom, another question. You can set or reset your lead wrist in static positions — at Address and at Top of Swing when reversal occurs. Once you start your swing what influence does the trail hand have on the dynamic positions of the lead wrist? Thanks.

    • geo

      Sep 14, 2018 at 10:43 am

      DJ’s trail hand has palm facing the sky. The lead wrist can be cupped or bowed, as long as trail palm faces the sky, the golf swing will stay , Inside the ball.

      The proverbial “waiter carrying the tray” position at the top of the swing, is the key.

      Ref: The Hogan Manual of Human Performance: GOLF, 1992.

      • stevet

        Sep 14, 2018 at 2:55 pm

        I can see that too but what does the trail hand do in the downswing and how does it affect the position of the lead wrist? Remember that the lead wrist must windmill freely so that the club can fully release into impact.

        • geohogan

          Sep 15, 2018 at 7:38 pm

          The hands simply hold on to the golf club.
          With DS taking less than 1/4 second and impact 5/10,000 of a second, we cannot know where the club is in space in real time during the DS, nor can we consciously initiate any change once the DS has begun.

          What happens to the lead wrist in DS is a result of Lag. Lag is the lodestar and palm of the trail hand facing the sky from the top of the BS is the key to lag.

          REF. The Hogan Manual of Human Performance: GOLF, 1992.

          • ogo

            Sep 16, 2018 at 3:31 pm

            Stop refering to Hogan, 1992 because his book is filled with technical flaws and his concepts are erroneous. He calls the wheel a “lever system”. It’s not; it’s a torque system. He refers to levers and forces but doesn’t understand torque. He’s not science educated. He’s a fraud.

  4. stevet

    Sep 13, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Okay, Tom, but what about the “100 lbs. centrifugal force” in final release that stretches out the lead arm and wrist and straightens them out? If you try to maintain a flexed or extended lead wrist through impact you are consciously compensating over milliseconds. Not possible unless you are slowing down going into impact. Thanks.

    • geohogan

      Sep 15, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      Slowing down it is. It is deceleration of proximal that is cause of acceleration of distal. REF: TPI, Kinematic sequence.

      So as a result of the deceleration of the arms in the DS, the lever (golf club) accelerates with the wrists acting as free hinges.

      The example written about in 1992, was the analogy of the runner hitting a trip wire.

      When the runner’s ankles going at a constant pace, hit the trip wire, the runners head hits the ground; his head accelerates due to centripedal acceleration through the radius (from his ankle to his head being the radius).

      • shane

        Sep 16, 2018 at 3:00 pm

        You are not Tom Stickney so buzz off

        • geohogan

          Sep 17, 2018 at 12:59 pm

          Waiting for Godot???

        • geohogan

          Sep 17, 2018 at 1:18 pm

          “I’ve gone back to a lot of stuff I used to do with my dad and how he first taught me how to play golf,” Woods said. “I f “I’ve built this golf swing … with my hands. My dad always used to say that’s the only thing we have direct contact with the club, so trust your hands.”

          Move over, Chris Como, Tiger’s hands are in charge now!
          “Playing baseball as a kid, you have to trust your hands,” Woods said. “I’ve trusted my hands again.

          more on hands in the golf swing: 1992.

        • geohogan

          Sep 17, 2018 at 7:47 pm

          and your not stevet, so sod off

      • stevet

        Sep 18, 2018 at 12:12 am

        “… the lever (golf club) accelerates with the wrists acting as free hinges.”.
        A “lever” cannot pivot around a “free hinge”, because a lever requires a fulcrum; the point on which a lever rests or is supported and on which it pivots. Where’s the fulcrum?

  5. stevet

    Sep 13, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Reread the first article before reading this article to see the whole picture. Tom, this Hack Motion Wrist Sensor data is pure scientific data that eliminates the “feel” factor. Keep it coming because this is the only way to eliminate anecdotal subjective comments. Thanks again.

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Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive

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Drop the mic on how the wrists should load and be positioned for compressive power, accuracy, and longevity! There is a better way, and this is it!

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301

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In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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An awesome drill for lag that works with the ball!

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Many lag drills have come and gone in this game because they have a hard time working when the ball is there! How many times do you hear about someone having a great practice swing and then having it all go away when the ball is there? This one is a keeper!

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