Which Fujikura shaft is best for you? Inside Fujikura’s full product catalog
Clement: Don’t overlook this if you want to find the center of the face
Tursky: I tested Titleist’s new 2023 T-Series irons (including the new T150 and T350). Here’s what happened…
Knudson gets fit into Fujikura Axiom iron shafts
If I had a dollar for every time I hear a golfer say, “My practice swing looks and feels great but when I go to the ball…”
Here is a major reason why that is and you will not hear this from any other teaching academy except ours (for years) for the moment. And it works for every single golfer!
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.
More from the Wedge Guy
- Wedge Guy: There’s no logic to iron fitting
- The Wedge Guy: Understanding iron designs, Part 1
- The Wedge Guy: Understanding iron designs, Part 2
Clement: Don’t overlook this if you want to find the center of the face
It is just crazy how golfers are literally beside themselves when they are placed in a properly aligned set up! They feel they can’t swing or function! We take a dive into why this is and it has to do with how the eyes are set up in the human skull!
Clampett: Why golfers aren’t improving
The average golf score in the United States is still 100 and has been for over 50 years, despite better equipment, improved technologies, and course conditions. Touring pros continue to improve. Seemingly every week is a new tournament scoring record, despite courses getting longer and tougher. So why doesn’t the average golfer improve?
Two major problems exist, and when combined, set the perfect “stymie,” preventing game improvement. Sadly, it’s hurting the game and is responsible for why four million golfers quit every year and why 10 million want-to-be golfers lie waiting, wondering how to learn. The Five Golf Powers, which form the World Golf Federation, have done little to address this problem.
Style-based instruction is the predominant form of golf instruction and continues to confuse golfers. This epidemic has stifled game improvement and established a landscape of frustrated golfers. The search for the perfect style of swing and the desire to create certain “good looking” or “preferred styled” positions has led to countless books, videos, and teachers who taught their “ideal” style of swing. “Stack and Tilt,” “Single Plane Swing.” “Natural Golf Swing,” “The A-Swing,” “The X-Factor Swing,” “The Morad Project,” “The One or Two Plane Swing,” “The Gravity Golf Swing,” and the list of style-based teaching methods go on and on… Meanwhile, the best golfers in the world don’t subscribe to any of these swings.
Television adds to the confusion. An analyst may express his or her opinion about the best grip, setup, backswing, plane, downswing, follow-through, etc. One teacher says to do one thing, and the other contradicts it. Confusion abounds everywhere.
One day while on air at the Golf Channel, I had just finished discussing how to hit a bunker shot by keeping the same swing, just changing the set-up; when another instructor, with little playing credentials, followed me and shared with the viewers an entirely different swing that included throwing away clubhead lag and flipping at the bottom of the swing to hit a bunker shot. The poor viewer who watched that day and who couldn’t interpolate which way was better. How many viewers were confused? My goal is to eliminate the confusion, not be part of it. So, I refused to join the Golf Channel on TV in that capacity anymore.
Today’s average golfer gets much of their information online, surfing the internet and watching YouTube videos while being bombarded with countless emails produced by golf instructors who deliver “swing tips” to promote their business. Contradictory views confuse undereducated golfers searching for clues to playing better golf. Desperate, they head to the driving range, ready to apply whatever they just read, but it rarely helps and never lasts.
Since I left the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions in 2014, I’ve gotten a rare insider’s look at the green grass golf business. I’ve witnessed a second problem that contributes to golfers not improving. A war has developed between golf club staff and professional golf instructors, who dedicate their careers to just teaching golf. Head and assistant professionals, who are underpaid, make much-needed additional income through golf instruction. The additional supplemental income is vital to their survival. They are not trained to teach golf per se, most learn to instruct through shadowing another club professional, or they read books, watch some videos, and learn much as the average golfer does. I was shocked to hear that the PGA does not train golf professionals to become teachers or directors of instruction, though they have just begun offering golf instruction as a track in the PGM College programs. Initially, when this track system began three years ago, the PGA estimated that only 20 percent would choose golf instruction. They were shocked to discover that 50 percent chose the track for golf instruction in their first year. It makes sense to me; golf instruction pays better, has more flexible hours, and, if you’re good at it, brings a smile to people’s faces.
Club staff professionals find it hard to compete with a competent golf instructor who has dedicated their livelihood to instruction. It’s a separate profession that requires a separate set of skills and specific training. It’s not easy to be a good golf instructor. Many full-time professional golf instructors have difficulty finding a job because staff professionals feel they will lose their business. Staff professionals often make their feelings known to management and owners and declare the club “their territory” for golf instruction. They often give the ultimatum and threaten to leave if management hires a professional golf instructor. With so few young people filling the needed gap of golf professionals, the staff usually gets their way. What is left at the club then are under-trained staff professionals teaching golf for the money and ill-equipped to give quality lessons.
No wonder recent statistics show that 70 percent of golfers who take lessons don’t improve. Additionally, 38 percent of private golf club members in the United States want a game improvement program, but their club doesn’t provide a satisfactory solution. One of America’s largest golf management companies; just discovered that clubs with a high-end golf instruction program reduce member attrition rates by 75 percent a year. The Proponent Group, the leading organization for professional golf instructors, reveals that the value of good golf instruction is much larger than most club owners and managers think. In fact, for every dollar an instruction program earns, the club benefits $1.75. Additionally, the lesson takers spend 78 percent more money at the club than non-lesson takers.
Management, to appease the staff’s request to earn an extra $20,000, costs the average club over $1 million per year, though they don’t yet realize the cost. The sadder picture is that most clubs generate less than $50,000 in golf instruction when a $1 million yearly program is available. The market is large; the eager golfers are plentiful, and golfers are starving for good instruction. History suggests that ownership and management don’t value good golf instruction. That’s why it’s unheard of to track instructors’ key performance indicators. But once ownership discovers this, they will emphasize member services and develop good golf instruction programs.
The answer to both problems
Style-based instruction is opinion-based, a failed attempt to find a perfect swing that doesn’t exist. Everyone is different, built differently, coordinated differently, skilled differently, with different natural propensities and learned behavior. Attempting to put them all in a box has proven disastrous.
Arnold Palmer once said, “Swing your own swing; I sure did!” Arnold had it right; style is individual, just like one’s signature, though I admire Arnold’s signature the most. But that’s my opinion. I have his signature on a picture of us hanging in my studio after our last round of golf together. The common denominator of all the best players in the world is impact. It’s the only thing that matters in the swing. Find your way to get there and make it consistent. That’s the name of the game. That’s why I developed “Impact-Based Teaching,” Learning to work from impact, backward, rather than swing-style, forward, is the key to quicker learning, improved instruction, happier golfers, and more golfers getting and staying in the game. Impact-based instruction is the vaccine to the “style-based” teaching methodologies epidemic.
The answer to the second problem is training staff professionals in Impact-Based Teaching and teaching them how to build their business. Track KPIs, improve their closing of new student assessments, and increase their retention, referral, and closing rates. Staff professionals can be successful in instruction once they are trained. It’s not their fault! The fields are ripe, and the harvest is plentiful for good golf instruction.
Good golf instruction is needed and can make a tremendous difference in the game, bringing more golfers, filling up club memberships, driving revenue, supporting junior golf, and more. It’s time we band together for the good of golf. Improve golf instruction and make it available.
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