Set-up Priority? grip, aim, GOLF STANCE, posture

During my years teaching with John Jacobs Golf Schools one of our basic go-to set-up routines was to exercise grip, aim, golf stance, posture prior to every shot. All are important and for a shot to be successful all must do their part to make great motion happen. What I watched the past two days, however, made me ask the question: does one part require more attention that the others? During a full field junior tournament with some of the best local players, and new players I started to see a trend that prompted the above question. The newer players aligned the club, feet, stance,  posture and hit it (all over the place). The better players (every one of them) took their time with the stance, and meticulously got their body in balance for the shot. As much as I love studying the mental game, I think today I’ll get a little physical. So it’s grip: got it, aim: got it, golf STANCE: ankles flexed feel my feet, check target, hips set fidget around to feel the ground, check target, pelvis and low back set and fidget, check target, shoulders set , arms hanging standard, check target, settle into posture: got it…GO! Reason? The set-up controls the path of the swing; make it as perfect as possible.

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Balanced Putting Video

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Putter Loft Change and Result Video

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New Book: Breath Golf Improve Your Entire Game

We’re golfers! We play golf, we make mistakes, we ask questions like: What did I do wrong? Did you see where it went? Why didn’t the putt break left? Golfers think about their swing, are trained and coached, watch hours of videos on the internet (ugh), and anguish over our quest for perfection disguised as fun. What if we can have a better game by starting our day just twenty minutes earlier? What if I told your swing isn’t broken? What if you could learn to be in the Zone, and get to the next level by studying just one book? Try Breath Golf, you’ll like it!

I am happy to support Jayne Storey’s new book, Breath Golf, not just because I participate in the Amazon affiliate program, but because I am a fanatic for her work. Jayne employs Tai Chi as the foundation of her performance coaching, which is why I’m such a fan. I was fortunate to study Tai Chi with Dr, Wen Zee in the 90’s and dreamed about writing golf magazine articles with him about balance and focused attention. It never came to pass, but what I learned from him sticks. Jayne mastered the melding of golf and Tai Chi, and her new book rocks! Not too long, not too short, just right…and to the point.

The point is meditation; single focused meditation on the essence of life: our breath. We learn a solid process for daily practice of twenty minutes per day; first thing in the morning (wake up early, please). Your meditation practice not only will improve your golf game, but can be a real life changer. Breath awareness can freely release you golf motion without interference. With that in mind, I especially like the premise that your golf practice time can then be better spent developing correct posture, alignment, and collected state of readiness than on things like swing mechanics. 

Jayne presents us with the Quiet Mind to start the book, flows through the process of an actual meditation training plan for you, the next higher level for golf meditation, and detailed plans for competition. Jayne’s web site is check it out! You know? I don’t think I need that new driver after all.



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Can Tempo Training Improve Your Golf Shot Accuracy

I recently studied a research paper with the subject of improving golf shot accuracy through tempo and rhythm training. Seems like it makes sense as those of you who have studied with me have incorporated rhythmic tempo for putting distance control (triplets). The study is titled “Improved Motor-Timing: Effects of Synchronized Metro-Nome Training on Golf Shot Accuracy” by Marius Sommer and Louise Rönnqvist, and is very enlightening. Golfers were divided into groups, a control group and a study group. The tempo trained group averaged a two meter improvement; included in 4 iron, 7 iron and wedge distances. What is so cool about the tempo training is I found an iPhone app that can accomplish the training. The study golfers trained with a Microsoft metronome computer program and practiced tapping along with the beat. Their performance was based on how close they were to the actual tempo. That training transferred over to their golf shots in a positive way (two meters overall average). The app I downloaded is the Pro Metronome (free version). You can tap along with the pre-set beat (the study used 54 BPM) and the display changes as your beat changes; keeping it at 54 beats per minute was disappointing; I need more tempo and rhythm training! Let me know how you do?

Center of Mass Golf Club Toss

Physics, mechanics, etc…can play havoc with our golf game if we think about it while we play, but it happens behind the scenes during every shot. Lately I’ve been seeing golfers actively raise the handle of the club at impact. Another example of the handle raise is Foresight club data when the club face displays a severe toe down action at impact. All of a sudden I thought about an object rotating about the center of mass, physics. We can find formulas and equations to find the center of mass of an object, but I think we can get a rough idea by just looking at the shape of the club. In the example, I have an orange training shaft with a center of mass along the shaft itself. In the left hand I have a large training club with a center of mass off the shaft. When the club head speed increases so does centrifugal force and the center of mass tries to align with the grip point of the club. Check out the video and see how the two objets rotate when I toss them at the screen. Can you imagine how you need to force the grip of the club, let’s say, in a down direction during the impact zone (or earlier) of a shot? And while we’re thinking about it, can you imagine where your center of mass is located on you body, and how you may rotate around it?

Both rotate around the yellow arrows
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BodiTrak, Putting Rhythm, Balance, and Lateral Motion Research

During a recent putting clinic covering rhythm and tempo I wanted to examine what happens to balance during the stroke. The players all accomplished a ‘before’ 10 foot putt standing on the BodiTrak mat then we jumped into training. We worked with basic mechanics first, then progressed to something different: each player simply was asked to walk around the putting green. I counted the beats for each individuals tempo, and then instructed each golfer on the musical technique of triplets (learned from my daughter, Rachel, with a music performance degree). So as you walk during sets of two steps count 1-2-3. The first count starts the stroke; 2: is the backstroke, and 3: is the finish (see Isocrony,, June 15, 2015). What that did was expose each player to a tempo mostly quicker that what they were used to. Then we practiced distance control focusing only on each players new rhythm and tempo. Distance control improved, but BodiTrak data also changed. Pressure traces had small balance adjustments. However, Center of Pressure-Velocity changes were dramatic.

This is an example of before and after; bottom is before, top after. At impact the lateral pressures are almost the same. The biggest change was the left foot heal-toe relationship; before pulled putts, after slight push. The next picture shows the surprise!
The Center of Pressure Velocity trace dramatically changed: direct relationship to distance control. Again bottom is before. This golfer moved away from the target at 65 centimeters per second at impact. Why? During his stroke he counterbalances his body to the stroke of the putter head (like a golfer who counterbalances to the back foot with a driver; just smaller). His focus is on the club instead of how his body is moving; the club, therefore, counter balances to him. After focusing on his new thought of 1-2-3 his lateral motion changed to one centimeter per second toward the target. He was very happy about distance control.
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Putter Grip and Face Rotation Experiment

October 2015 I studied the putter face aiming data of 43 golfers, and plotted the aim point of each on a target board. The putts were all ten feet long with an accuracy goal of one degree; 2.09 inches from center. One of the biggest miss factors in putting, other than an aim bias, is face rotation through impact. An observation of Tiger’s putting this weekend at The Open started the wheels rolling in my brain; why does Tiger still us the same small Ping grip on his putter after all these years? Doesn’t he know about all the high tech grips available? Or does one of the best players ever know something we don’t know? Especially since I have a new Lamkin Flat Cat grip on my EXO Rossie. So I performed a test of fifty putts (twenty five on video) with five different style grips, and putt length of eight feet (keeping a one degree miss inside the cup). I used my Rick Wright Putting Laser ( for a consistent start line, and a Blast sensor for accurate data. Putter face rotation change was what I wanted to examine, and was rather surprised at my results (not very scientific; it would be fun to do the same process with many golfers…wait for it). Here is what I discovered:

The Super Stroke 2.0 grip rotated the most averaging 0.92 degrees open per putt; made three of five on video.

The Flat Cat rotated an average of 0.78 degrees open per putt; made four of five on video.

The Scotty grip rotated an average of 0.54 degrees open per putt; made 3 of five on video.

The skinny Ping grip rotated 0.28 degrees per putt; made five of five.

The Rosemark grip rotated 0.24 degrees per putt; made 3 of five.

The Rosemark grip paired with a See More putter; along with the Ping were more than twice as accurate overall. The video will display some of the Blast data which I usually use for tempo training, but in this case we have a fantastic cluster from loft, lie, speed, stroke lengths, and face positions. ( Interesting note: The Champion Golfer of the Year also used a small grip.

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Improve Putting with a Stabilized Swing

Want to know a way to improve your putting with a stabilized platform? Did you ever build a children’s swing set? Let’s see; you’ll need two A frames, a pole between, eye bolts, some chain, and a seat. The eye bolt is the fulcrum of the swing set. When a kid (or you) jump on the seat and start kicking a fun ride begins, but if you don’t anchor down the legs of the A frame the ensuing wobble get’s your attention! So what does this have to do with improving your putting? The human spine just happens to hold a spot that acts as the eye bolt fulcrum of the kids swing set. The C7 vertebrae (big bone at the base of your neck) is it. When you perform a normal putting stance the putter grip should aim on an imaginary line through your chest right up to that “eye bolt” vertebrae. A normal putting stroke should rotate around that ‘fulcrum’ moved by the scapula; the only real swinging motion in that thing we call a golf swing. Now here’s the rub, what if you’re not anchored down like a swing set? What can you do to stabilize you foundation like a concrete weight under each foot?

External rotation of the femur/thigh is done by squeezing your glutes; each foot can rotate outward. With feet on the ground we feel like they twist into the turf. Pretty stable? Sure thing, but wait just a minute for a very important detail. I recently studied an academic web presentation on the function of the foot and ankle. There is a small detail some of us neglect that can lead to an unstable platform; our big toe. When the big toe engages the ground the entire lower leg musculature can fire and stabilize the stance. Without the big toe connecting with the ground only the big outer muscles engage. Want to improve your putting with a more stable stance? Put your big toe on the ground, and roll the ball to the hole!

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Mobilize Vertically: Wedges First

Over the past two years I have been writing a project which I hope will come to fruition within the next few months. Part of my task was to describe what I see happening in the golf swing. Those of you that study with me know that ‘swing’ word is one I think belongs in a Sears catalog with a slide attached on one end, and maybe a set of rings. So what I see happening in the golf motion is very complex, and my job is to communicate it as simple as possible to the golfer receiving the information. With that in mind, I prescribe to Dr. Mike Boyle’s body model (New Functional Training For Sports), which divides the body into stable and mobile…chunks. For right handed golfers, the main stability chunk is the left foot, then in order: mobile ankle, stable knee, mobile hip socket, stable pelvis and lumbar spine, mobile thoracic spine (the ball is gone), stable scapula (the ball is still gone), mobile Glenohumeral joint, stable elbow, and mobile wrist (ball has been gone for a while).

For a 40 yard pitch shot, a 52 degree gap wedge works well. Backswing motion: shaft straight up, left arm parallel to the ground, but first!: mobile left hip joint stacked over the mobile left ankle (almost feels like the hip is back behind the ankle); it just sits there and doesn’t move. So two thirds of the motion for this 40 yard pitch shot is complete; the next and last thing to do is mobilize the thoracic spine. Now that can cause problems because everybody has a big chest full of ribs to rotate around where ever they may be, but let’s not be satisfied with that motion. Let’s focus on the center of mass of the thoracic spine, a spot behind the xiphoid process (the cartilaginous section at the lower end of the sternum). So the center of your chest is the third mobilization chunk you have to move in a kinetic chain of events to let the ball fly on a good path. In addition, since the first two mobilization chunks are already in place all we need to do is focus on moving that one chunk straight over your foot/hip combo, and let a straight line make a curve.

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