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pnomm

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A reader recently sent me some questions about his golf game. Below are those questions and my responses.





I'm 31 years old, 5'8" 190 lbs, have wide shoulders and short arms (not a good combination for golf). I'm not fat or out of shape (most people who are my size and weigh close to 200 lbs are built like a bowling ball...I'm athletic and strong. I've played every sport imaginable growing up but have only played golf for about 5 years. Spent the first 4 years trying to teach myself to play and forming all sorts of bad habits along the way (reverse pivot, over the top...nasty pull hook). I've spent the past year taking lessons and practicing like a dog (I go to the range at LEAST 5 days a week). I'm currently a 9 hc but have been as low as a 5. I would consider my game a grinders game....sometimes a little loose off the tee and even a little loose with my irons but a scrappy short game and streaky putting make or break my rounds. It seems that no matter how bad I hit the ball I won't shoot worse than 85 (I'm good at damage control and playing smart). I'd say course management is a strength to my game and allows me to score well. My lowest round is a 4 under 68.





Ok here's my issues:





After a few years of teaching myself how to play I learned to play pretty well using an extremely strong grip (like Paul Azinger or Zach Johnson), minimal hip turn, and a hold off move through impact (my left wrist is cupped and the back of my left hand faces up at impact). I became a very very good iron player this way but struggled with my woods and driver like this. Then I discovered that if I went to a weaker grip with my driver I didn't have to fight off the release of the club and could get more of a sweeping move and hit the driver pretty well this way. I figured that it wasn't good to use two different grips / swings for different clubs so that's when I decided to take some lessons.





I WOULD AGREE WITH MOVING MORE AWAY FROM THE VERY STRONG GRIP. I RARELY MAKE MAJOR ADJUSTMENTS WITH AN INDIVIDUAL'S GRIP UNLESS IT IS SO STRONG OR SO WEAK THAT IT IMPEDES THE CLUBHEAD FROM ROTATING PROPERLY. A GOOD WAY TO DETERMINE WHAT IS NATURAL FOR YOU IS TO STAND UP WITH YOUR ARMS RELAXED AT YOUR SIDES. PLACE THE CLUB IN YOUR LEFT HAND (WITH YOUR HAND STILL RELAXED AT YOUR SIDE) AND THEN BRING IT AROUND TO A NORMAL GOLF ADDRESS POSITION. THE REASON FOR THIS IS BECAUSE THE CLUB NEEDS TO BE ABLE TO ROTATE (RELEASE), AND BY HOLDING IT IN A NEUTRAL POSITION WE ALLOW IT TO WORK FREELY.





During these lessons the instructors have put me in a more neutral grip position and a more upright stance....again, this helped me hit the driver pretty well but now I feel like I'm hitting my irons very weak and sometimes that old hold off move sneaks in and I'll hit a SHANK. I used to come in pretty steep with my irons and always made very crisp contact, pinching the ball and getting great distance and accuracy with my irons. Now it's more of a sweeping move and I often hit it fat or thin and am missing shots to the left and the right....I can hit 5 shots with my 8 iron...2 will be hooks, 1 will be a nice slight draw, 1 will be a nice slight fade, and 1 will be a push slice or a shank. That's how inconsistent my swing has become.





THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO MIND HERE IS THE DESCRIPTION OF THE SHOTS STARTING ALL OVER THE PLACE. TWO THINGS AFFECT WHERE THE BALL GOES - THE SWING PATH THROUGH IMPACT AND THE RELEASE OF THE CLUB WHICH DETERMINES WHETHER OR NOT THE FACE IS SQUARE. THE ONE THING WE CAN CONTROL IS THE SWING PATH THROUGH IMPACT. IF WE ARE ABLE TO MAKE THIS CONSISTENT, THE RELEASE WILL ALSO BE CONSISTENT. FOR EXAMPLE, IF ONE TIME WE PULL A SHOT, ONE TIME WE PUSH ONE, THE NATURAL TIMING AND TRAINING OF OUR RELEASE WILL NOT BECOME CONSISTENT. HOWEVER, IF YOU CAN SWING THE CLUB TIME AFTER TIME ON THE SAME PATH, THE RELEASE WILL BECOME MORE AND MORE CONSISTENT. THIS ALSO EXPLAINS WHY YOU ARE HITTING FAT, THIN, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN. IN FACT, A STEEPER SWING WOULD BE LESS CONSISTENT THAN A SWEEPING MOTION, SO THE ANSWER LIES IN THE SWING PATH. THE BEST WAY TO WORK ON THIS IS TO LAY DOWN A FEW CLUBS ON THE RANGE WHILE YOU HIT SHOTS. LAY ONE DOWN ALONG YOUR TARGET LINE AS A REFERENCE FOR ALIGNING YOUR BODY TOWARDS YOUR TARGET. LAY TWO MORE CLUBS DOWN, ONE ABOUT TWO FEET IN FRONT OF THE BALL AND THE OTHER ABOUT TWO FEET BEHIND IT. ALIGN THEM APPROXIMATELY 10-DEGREES TO THE RIGHT OF THE TARGET TO ENCOURAGE AN APPROACH TO THE BALL FROM THE INSIDE. WHEN YOU ARE CONSISTENTLY ALIGNED, ALL YOU NEED TO WORK ON IS SWINGING THE CLUB SO THAT THE BALL BEGINS ON THE SAME LINE TIME AFTER TIME. IT IS THIS INITIAL DIRECTION OF THE BALL FLIGHT THAT NEEDS TO BE OUR PRIORITY. THIS IS WHAT WE CAN CONTROL. THE RELEASE IS A NATURAL OCCURANCE AND SHOULD NOT BE FORCED.





A friend of mine (he's a +1 hc) tells me that my upper body outraces my lower body in the downswing and that my hips only partially rotate and then stop about 3/4 of the way through. He said that my belt buckle should be facing left of my target on my follow through but I feel like I would hit it straight left if I did that. He said that I should think of my belly button outracing my left arm in the downswing. I guess my biggest questions come from where my hands and the clubhead are in relation to each other in the swing. If I release my hips as he suggested I feel like my hands are in front of my right pocket but the club and clubhead are behind me and I feel like I'm too handsy through impact and will hit nothing but hooks...should I just trust it and stick with it or is he way off? What's your take on his "belly button outracing the left arm concept"? Is this something I should keep practicing?





YOU MENTIONED ABOVE THAT YOU HAVE PLAYED EVERY OTHER SPORT OUT THERE. LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION - WHEN YOU THROW A FOOTBALL OR A BASEBALL, ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT WHERE YOUR HIPS ARE RELATIVE TO YOUR BELLY BUTTON, ETC? HOPEFULLY NOT. REMEMBER, GOLF, LIKE ANY OTHER SPORT, IS A NATURAL AND EFFICIENT MOTION WHEN PERFORMED CORRECTLY. ALL OF YOUR BODY PARTS SHOULD BE MOVING TOGETHER - ONE DOES NOT OVERWHELM THE OTHER. MY GOAL IN TEACHING THE GAME IS HELPING ALL OF US GET RID OF THESE UNNECESSARY THOUGHTS SO THAT WE CAN PERFORM BETTER. AS I SAID ABOVE, FOCUS ONLY ON SWINGING THE CLUBHEAD TOWARD THE TARGET, JUST LIKE THROWING A BALL.





Something that tells me I'm not shifting my weight properly is that I've tried that drill...where you set up to the ball normally and then take your front foot and bring it back next to your back foot. Then you swing back and step forward with your front foot as you start your downswing.....when I do this drill I hit the ball so crisp and solid but I can't get the same feeling when my feet are apart. I've been doing this drill for a few weeks now and hit the ball AWESOME like this but I just can't get the same feeling with a normal stance. I've actually considered playing that way but don't want to look like a freak.





KIND OF ALONG THE SAME LINES AS WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT, WHEN WE SWING THE CLUBHEAD TO OUR TARGET, OUR WEIGHT NATURALLY SHIFTS THROUGH IMPACT. ONE IMPORTANT KEY IS TO REMEMBER OUR TARGET IS NOT THE BALL, IT IS THE FLAG, OR THE FAIRWAY, OR WHEREVER WE ARE TRYING TO SWING TOWARDS. VERY OFTEN WE ARE SO FOCUSED ON HITTING THE BALL, WE SWING DOWN AT IT AND EITHER COME OVER THE TOP OR FORGET ABOUT OUR LINE. SWING OUT TO YOUR TARGET, AND LET EVERYTHING ELSE FALL IN PLACE.





Should a guy with my body style swing a little differently than your typical lanky, long armed golfer guy? Any tips for short stocky guys? For instance....my buddy is 5'11" and weighs about 160. he's very skinny and has long arms....when he sets up to the ball his forearms and elbows are very close to each other and he maintains that throughout his swing. Because my shoulders are so wide and my arms are short I can't get my forearms close together without really hunching my back and forcing them together. So basically the triangle that he forms is very long and narrow and mine is very short and wide.....so this tells me that I probably need to swing a little differently than him. Any help???





ABSOLUTELY. EVERYONE SWINGS DIFFERENTLY. ANYTIME SOMEONE FORCES SOMETHING IN THE GOLF SWING IT NEGATIVELY AFFECTS SOMETHING ELSE. YOU SHOULD NOT FORCE YOUR ARMS TOGETHER LIKE YOUR FRIEND. THEY SHOULD FALL NATURALLY, AS SHOULD HIS.





I hope I didn't ramble too much....I've been pretty frustrated this season as I've gone out one day and shot 68 and hit the ball great and then 3 days later I was at the range hitting shanks with my irons and snap hooks with my driver. I feel like I can't stick to one thing....like I'm searching for the right swing for my body and am having a tough time finding it.
INSTEAD OF SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT SWING, LET IT FIND YOU. AS IF YOU WERE THROWING A BALL, SWING THE CLUBHEAD TOWARDS YOUR TARGET AND LET EVERYTHING ELSE FALL INTO PLACE FORM THERE. JUDGE THE SWING PATH BY THE INITIAL DIRECTION THE BALL TAKES OFF. IF IT BEGINS WHERE YOU INTENDED IT, YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING. LET THIS BECOME YOUR GOAL - TO BEGIN EACH SHOT ON ITS INTENDED LINE. KEEP THE GAME SIMPLE. BALL - TARGET - SWING. LET IT HAPPEN NATURALLY AND YOU WILL PLAY GREAT GOLF.



http://www.greatgolf.blogspot.com/
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