Skill training in ‘clusters’ is proven to be an effective way to learn an entire motion like the golf swing. Most new golfers I see swinging the club are using force from the hands, arms, shoulders…upper body in general. Good start if the upper body had the only power function in a shot, but the singularly lateral motion of arms omits the powerhouse of rotation into the ground and lower body. So with ‘cluster’ training in mind and an extra swimming pool noodle I developed this drill, primarily for young players because it’s so noisy/fun, to incorporate the lower body at a position where rotational motion can result in more power through the hands to the club head. (note: all players enjoy the noise)
From a face on position a few inches from a wall, in your golf posture, with arms and hands point the noodle to 3:00 level with the ground. Focus on the target side heel of your shoe and slowly start pushing pressure enough to feel the weight building on the target side leg. Push your target side hip up and back into the wall and roll your rear end toward the target as far as you can. Keep the pressure down into the target side shoe during the entire movement, and let the pressure from the right side release. Let the noodle point straight out from your belly and bang it into the wall as you rotate around your left glute making as much noise as you can. Check your posture.
Goal is to develop skill using the target side glute as the counterbalance point of the full swing, and transition from linear to rotational force at an advantageous time in the downswing. Students BodiTrak traces are becoming more linear with a more efficient transition to the target side.
After using BodiTrak Center of Pressure technology for the past 18 months I’ve learned a tremendous amount related to where the best players use ground forces and pressure to accomplish their ‘perfect’ golf shots. Thanks to a number of colleagues we have pressure traces available from some of the best golfers in the world. What appears to be the most effective path to gain maximum distance is to move the center of pressure (COP) on a linear path toward the target as early and ‘pressurized’ as possible prior to impact. Tour level golfers even send their COP toward the target even before they complete the backswing.
My teaching and coaching dwells more with normal golfers with very few elite golfers in the mix, and the observations of the handicapped golfers pressure trace is quite different and dynamic from the elite player. There is a lot of heel/toe instability, but what I’ve observed that affects shot quality the most is where the linear center of pressure is at impact. Topped, thin, and pushed shots match up with a pressure trace with the center toward the back foot at impact. Drills such as the step drill to move into the target can help, but I feel a more common denominator is the swing itself.
If we consider the scientific laws, such as, action – reaction, we can see some alarming pressure traces based on the force and direction of a golfers arm swing. Simply put, if you swing hard throughout; especially after impact, the trace can stall or actually move back away from the target.
Here is one an example of the before and after pressure trace at impact of a normal golfer. The before trace is in the lower frame; the after is the upper. The difference at impact improves from 66% back to 97% toward the target. We rehearsed moving the left hip and pelvis away from the ball, back and up. The golfers external focus was the heel of the left shoe and left belt loop of his shorts moving back and up. Once the player felt the proper sequence, we simply ‘swung’ the club to just past impact and stopped. My golfer called it the Punch Drill; his 7 iron yardage increased 20-30 yards and driver increased 30-60 yards. We need to practice applying the proper forces on the club at the proper time to be most effective. Like leading up to and including impact; not so much a big, powerful follow-through past vertical with the arms.
Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to meet with BodiTrak VP and guru, Terry Hashimoto in Palm Desert, California. After an epicurean dinner Friday evening we started Saturday with an overview of the new BodiTrak Tour wireless COP mat. The new blue mat integrates with PC computers as usual, but now integrates with the iPhone and iPad using V1 technology! In addition, it can also display a variety of golf shot radar data; all at the same time. We spent the rest of the morning at The Vintage Club helping Head Pro David Woods and his staff get familiar with BodiTrak on the lesson tee. What a gorgeous golf facility! After leaving I stopped by The Palms and had the honor of meeting Dr. Craig Farnsworth, one of the best putting instructors in the world. We had a fine lunch; so the weekend started and finished with an epicurean delight!
My new mat has been put to use at Fred Enke GC here in Tucson the past week and is getting a warm reception. My favorite story this week was with an elder golfer, just 94 years old. He plays at least six holes a day, had was starting to hit fat shots. He saw his trace on the mat and knew exactly what to do; he’s now my biggest fan and loves the magic carpet.
On Saturday October 24 I set up an aiming station on the practice putting green at Fred Enke Golf Course, Tucson. Parameters were a level putt, ten feet in length. 43 golfers accepted an invitation to participate with instructions to accomplish their pre-shot routine, normal set-up, up to the point of actually rolling the ball; at that time I replaced the ball with my Harold Swash Laser. My aiming board was covered with plastic so I could mark the precise laser aim of each of the 43 golfers. Misses left and right were equal at 13 different degrees of error. The one degree aims on the edge of the hole most likely would miss. Most of the left – right players who rolled their ball compensated for their mis-aim by pushing or pulling their putts. The red dots represent each golfers laser spot on the aiming board. Fundamental putting training is on the way the Fred Enke very soon!
The end of the 2015 PGA Tour left us with some interesting statistics to ponder, and adjust our goals for the next playing season (tomorrow, here in Arizona). How about this result (ugh) oriented goal: Make all my putts from three feet! Caution! Caution! Big Mistake Alert! Of all the PGA Tour players that played during 2015 only seven made 100% of their three footers. Jason Day made 612 straight (my old F-16 squadron was 612 TFS…subtile trivia, hence the mention of Jason’s 612), but the real horse was Daniel Summerhays who drizzled in 941!
We’ve all been told the old legendary drill of placing a five dollar bill in the hole on the practice green, line up 100 three foot putts, and make them all. If you miss, leave the money in the cup, thus paying for your lack of skill, and walk away in shame. (They say Phil used to practice that way.) It’s also block training, which isn’t best for putting. The drill I’ll ask you to use looks like block training, but we’ll adjust the sequence and make it OK. The biggest reason most of us miss any putt is a poor aim, but in the realm of the dreaded three footer we can miss by as much as three degrees and still make it. So the most likely culprit is rotating the putter face at impact; we’re all guilty! A very good way to train square face control is to build a gate along the line of the putt that will deflect the ball if the face moves more than one degree. One set of parameters is to place two tees exactly 2.16 inches apart on each side of the putt line exactly 14 inches in front of the ball. Maintain a square face through impact and the ball rolls between the uprights. In case you don’t carry a tape measure in your golf bag try placing the tees half the width of your putter face (they’re usually 4.5 inches or so wide) and the ball three putter faces away; that’s pretty close.
To make the training more random do the three foot gate drill in sequence after practicing a 5, 10, 15, and 20 foot putt (that’s more like how Mr. Summerhays did it). Your brain will remember the skill better, you’ll make more three footers, and you won’t throw away five dollars.
Really happy to announce there will be a new mat in town within the next few weeks! The new Boditrak Tour is fully wireless and compatible with the iPhone and iPad. Now we can literally take it to the course and start getting traces on all of all those uneven lies! Don’t forget those putts!
Last week I studied an excellent post by Daniel Gray, PGA Professional from Illinois, on Center of Gravity and Ground Reaction (http://danielrgray.com/center-of-gravity-and-ground-force-reaction-how-they-help-create-power-and-speed/). As I an avid user of BodiTrak COP technology I was immediately drawn to the subject, but what really is impressive are his instructions on physical training to lead the body into powerful positions of the golf swing. I practiced his medicine ball technique before recording one of my best lateral traces. In addition, my hips extended toward the target in a very relaxed posture. The drill starts from a golf stance, ball in hands, backswing turn, and bounce the ball behind your trail hip; you really get a perfect feeling of the initial on plane downswing move. Here is my latest lateral trace!
A student and I were practicing reading greens last week, and we tried to tackle our 4% slope number 18. I set up the camera to video the ‘big miss,’ but we made the first two. So our aiming point and speed were right on. Here are the photos of the third and first putts.