Stop Trying to Swing the Club too Parallel

Every week we see the greatest golfers in the world all swinging the club shaft in the general vicinity of parallel to the ground at the top of the backswing.  Some go slightly past parallel and some slightly short of parallel.  In general it is fair to say that most professional golfers swing the club shaft back to a point that is very close to parallel.  Another generalization is that most club professionals can walk down their driving range and watch many of their amateur students swinging the club shaft to a point at or past parallel to the ground at the top of the backswing.

Let us as golfers make it a goal to stop trying to swing the club shaft to parallel if we are not flexible enough to do so.  As a general rule, (if you are flexible enough) you should max out your upper body turn at around 80 degrees of rotation. Visit www.k-vest.com to find an instructor that can measure this. The arms and hinge should stop a nearly indiscernible split second after the upper body turn is complete.  If you cannot turn far enough to get the club shaft to parallel, do not try to get it there by adding unnecessary wrist hinge or arm bend.  Work towards setting your lead wrist (left for right-handed golfers) early in the backswing.  If you can have it fully hinged by the time your lead arm gets to parallel with the ground in the backswing, your chances of over swinging the backswing with your arms and hands will decrease!

The result will be a more repeatable swing that is not so dependent on perfect timing.  The percentage of solid shots will increase and the range of mis-directed shots will decrease.

Written by Scott Seifferlein, PGA Golf Guru at Grand Rapids Golf Lesson

Setting Your Golf Alignment

As you read this golf tip, please keep in mind that it may not apply to your unique needs.  Always consult with your local PGA professional before attempting to apply any golf tip you have read from a newspaper, magazine, book, internet, etc.

Most right-handed golfers aim too far to the right (left handed golfers too far left). This causes the club-head to move outside the correct plane and then across the ball in the downswing to compensate for the poor alignment.  The result is a loss of club-head speed.

To check your alignment, place a shaft along your toes or the back of your heels.  Stand ten feet behind the ball and look to see where the shaft is lined up.  It should be aligned to the left (right for left-handed players) of and parallel to your target.  The shoulders should also follow this line when set-up to the ball.

Written by Scott Seifferlein, PGA Guru at Grand Rapids Golf Lesson

Fairway Bunker Shot Technique

Mary Hafeman PGA and LPGA Professional at the Mary Hafeman Golf Experience located within the Grand Club’s Cypress Club in Palm Coast, Florida shares her Fairway Bunker Shot Techniques….

 

I always find the most challenging bunker shot to hit is the fairway bunker shot. The objective is to hit the ball a greater distance than a green side bunker.   A fundamental difference between the two shots is that from a greenside bunker you try to hit the sand first where in a fairway bunker you want to contact the ball first.

Be sure to select a club that has enough loft to clear the lip of the fairway bunker. Architect’s design some of the fairway bunkers with a high lip, which inhibits the player to hit the ball high enough to carry the necessary distance.  If you have had the experience of a “fairway pot bunker” you know what I am talking about.  Remember you need to get out of the bunker first before you think about the distance needed. I’ll list below some of the adjustments you need to make to produce a successful fairway bunker shot.
  1. Most importantly check the lie of the ball first. A good lie that is sitting “up” allows for a normal swing with few adjustments. A medium lie allows for more of a descending blow and a poor lie which is sitting “down” requires a player to just pitch out into the fairway.
  2. Set your feet in the bunker while addressing the ball. You have an opportunity to notice how deep the sand is as you set your feet, you also need your feet set for a good base to ensure a consistent swing.
  3. Choke or grip down on the club about an inch about the same distance as you have dug your feet into the sand.
  4. Position the ball in the middle of your stance.
  5. Move your hands ahead of the ball slightly as you cannot ground the club in a hazard without a penalty stroke.
  6. Target hitting the ball just above the sand on a good lie. If you have a poor lie take a more lofted club and hit a traditional green side bunker shot back out to the fairway.
  7. Look not at a spot behind the ball like a green side bunker but rather on the front side of the ball or just slightly ahead of the ball to help assure you hit the ball first and not the sand. It will feel like you “picked the ball” out of the sand.
Fairway bunker shots although may be tricky, the shot becomes easier with confidence and practice. Remember look at your lie in the bunker and how deep the bunker face is before you select your club. Getting out of the bunker should be your first thought and if  you can get the correct distance you are way ahead of the ball game.
If you would like to learn more about how to play better golf, contact Mary Hafeman PGA and LPGA Professional at www.maryhafemangolf.com or purchase a gift card for a lesson package here, You will enjoy your experience, learn and improve, I guarantee it!

Grip Pressure

As you read this golf tip, please keep in mind that it may not apply to your unique needs.  Always consult with your local PGA professional before attempting to apply any golf tip you have read from a newspaper, magazine, book, internet, etc.

Grip the club as hard as you can.  We will call this grip pressure a ten. Then grip it so light it falls out of your hands.  We will call this grip pressure a one.  Now grip the club with pressure in the three to five range.  This is the correct grip pressure for you to maintain for most golf shots.

It is important that after setting up with the correct grip pressure, you maintain the correct grip pressure throughout the swing. Going from a 3 grip pressure to a 7 starting the downswing will create problems.

Written by Scott Seifferlein, PGA Guru at Grand Rapids Golf Lesson

The Value of Practice Swings

What?? Practice swings you say? What difference does that make?

Well here is what the average golfer does…. the average golfer will tee up his ball and then step back and take a full 100% simulation swing of what he thinks he wants to do.

You’ll even hear a “swish” to the club going through the air. If he hits the ground too hard, he’ll take another; if not, he’ll think he’s ready.

Contrast that with the greatest players in the world. They’ll take some swings to find a rhythm and move their body. They might even rehearse a mechanical move…. but that’s it. Then they step up to the ball and use their 100% swing.

One of the best examples of this is Tiger Woods. He takes about 3-5 swings that are about 3/4 back and through and swung in slow motion. He’s preparing his body. This concept has even found it’s way into baseball.

Hideki Matsui has the most curious habit at the plate. He never takes a practice swing once he steps into the batter’s box. He saves all those meaty cuts for when he needs them. Hideki knows that practice swings suck up energy, also if you swing hard enough on a practice swing, you could hurt yourself!

Written by Scott Seifferlein, PGA Guru at Grand Rapids Golf Lesson

Doing Correct Exercises for an Effective Golf Swing

Over the years I have come across a lot of smart people in the field of rehabilitation, fitness and sports performance. Of the many things I have learned, I’m always making sure that each of my clients are doing exercises that are specific to their own unique problems and goals. With that being said I want to describe a systematic approach to exercise that will help those that do not have personal coaching.

An interesting concept I have been utilizing for the last year or so, is a joint by joint approach to rehab, fitness and performance of golfers. This concept was first discussed by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook, two leaders in the area of sports performance. The idea is that each major joint (or area of the body) has a tendency to function more as a mobile joint, or as a stable joint. Yes, they all require a certain degree of each, and joint injury plays a role, however, this concept tends to hold true.

This mobility/stability concept occurs in an alternating pattern, and if this pattern is changed then dysfunction and compensation will occur. The normal pattern is shown below.

FootStable

AnkleMobile

KneeStable

HipMobile

Pelvis/Sacrum/Lumbar SpineStable

Thoracic Spine (upper back)Mobile

Scapulo/Thoracic (shoulder blade) – Stable

Gleno-humeral (shoulder)Mobile

ElbowStable

WristMobile

Cervical SpineStable

 

Regarding dysfunction in the body, we can use the low back as an example. If you do not have good mobility in the hips and in the upper back (thoracic spine), then the low back will give up some of its stability to obtain more motion when needed in those areas. A tight upper back & hips are big causes of low back pain in golfers.

A training error I see all the time is golfers focusing on strengthening their core in a dynamic and sometimes violent manner. This will not only lead to low back injury, but in fact it’s the hips and upper back that often times need improved mobility. That would not only help prevent injury, but also improve the overall golf swing.

So take a good look at the above table and make sure you have mobility where it is needed and stability in the ares where it is needed. Then let this be a guide in your selection of golf specific exercises.

Good Luck!
Mark Tolle – Owner of Golf Fitness Chicago

Golf Mobility Exercise to Increase Shoulder Turn

Here is a mobility exercise video that will help increase the shoulder turn in your golf swing.  You want to ensure that the majority of the rotation in the golf swing is coming from your upper back.  Often times golfers will over rotate through the low back which can lead to low back pain.

The shoulder turn is not only dependent upon the golf set up posture, but also the actual mobility of the upper back (thoracic spine) region.  This exercise takes advantage of the natural biomechanics of the thoracic spine and the relationship of the movements rotation and side bend.  These 2 movements occur in the spine together especially in the golf swing.

So give this a try and watch that shoulder turn improve.

 

How to Handle Casual Water on the Putting Green

With spring in the air we can most certainly expect the April showers soon and more than likely periodically throughout the summer. So now is a good time for us to review a few simple tips on dealing with water accumulation on the putting greens.

Many times the rules around casual water on the greens are misunderstood. What is casual water? It’s any temporary accumulation of water on the course not in a water hazard, such as puddles (from those April showers) on the surface. A critical tip to remember: You are not allowed to brush aside casual water or mop it up from your line of play.

If your ball is on the green and casual water is in the line of your putt, move the ball to an area of the green where the water no longer obstructs your putting line. However, as always, no closer to the hole! For you early morning golfers, keep in mind that you cannot brush away the dew or the frost. If you do…..it’s a two stoke penalty.

Enjoy the onset of the warmer weather and resist the urge to “brush away” the water and dew! or to “mop up” any of those puddles!

Hitting a Good Shot When the Ball is Above Your Feet

When the lie of the ball is not level with your feet, your stance, alignment, swing, and direction of the shot is directly impacted. Let’s look at some tips to make this sidehill lie shot a good one.

  • Using a club with a higher degree of loft than normal for that distance of shot is the first part to hitting the best shot. A side hill lie with the ball above your feet will produce a right to left draw (opposite if you’re lefty) shot that will roll farther than a typical shot. For instance, if you would normally choose a 7-iron for that distance, try to use an 8-iron instead.
  • When taking aim, try to aim right of the target if you’re right-handed, and left of the target if you’re left-handed, since this shot will have a slight draw to it.
  • When approaching the ball, set it back in you stance more toward your back foot.
  • In your stance, stand tall and keep your weight on the balls of your feet so that you have maximum balance through the swing.
  • When gripping the club, try to choke up a bit. How much you choke up will depend on how severe the slope of the lie is. The steeper the lie, the father you need to choke up.
  • Take a few practice swings to ensure that you have a good grip and good posture for the swing.
  • Last, make a flatter swing with your arms lower then usual in your backswing. This type of swing is used to produce a draw and has a higher risk of hitting a fat shot. This is why you moved the ball back in your stance and aimed right of your target (again, opposite if you’re a lefty).

Hitting Out of the Deep Rough

If you have ever hit the ball and it doesn’t stay in the fairway, you have experienced the wrath of many courses deep rough. You watched your ball roll into the deep but quickly it disappears, nestling down into the gnarly grass creating a very difficult next shot.

To combat thick rough, set up just left of your target and open up the club face just a bit. This will let the club cut through the grass a little bit better and not allow the grass to pull the clubface left. Choke down on the club a bit and tighten your grip to solidify your club as your swing rips through the deep grass.

During your swing, use an outside-to-inside swing path to create a steeper angle to attack the ball. This angle will help you to hit more of the ball first and not all grass behind it. This path will correspond to your stance. In effect, you will be swinging along the line you created with your feet.

When hitting from the rough where the grass is growing in the direction of the hole, use a more lofted club. Keep in mind that when the grass is growing away from the hole or target, the grass will create more resistance. In this case, it may be best to use a wedge to lay up your shot. No sense in trying to work against the nature of the grass!