In episode 1 we discuss and break down the fundamentals of proper bunker play.
Susan and I met for lesson number 4 and things seem to moving right along. We’ve progressed nicely from explaining and understand the proper strike dynamics and have begun incorporating those dynamics into a broader swing perspective. On out last visit we expanded Susan’s action and introduced a slight wrist hinge on the back swing and follow through thereby increasing her swing arc and club head speed all the while maintaining a simplicity in her action.
Along with the wrist hinge we also addressed the importance of stability. As the arc of the swing progresses from a chip shot to a fuller move the body has a tendency to to sway or rock laterally to and fro. With most people, as with Susan, the excess sway is very hard to detect, internally. An external influence, such as a club gently held up against the head, will do the trick. Once Susan felt the handle of the club make contact with the right side of her head, on the back swing, she began to counter the movement and stabilize her action.
THE CLOSED FACE
Last week we discovered two detrimental characteristics with Susan’s swing as we moved into a fuller action. First, was a closed club face and second was a plain that was far too flat, both of which were occurring on the back swing. So, this week we spent a good amount of time getting Susan to feel comfortable with a club head that rotates with her body, as apposed to one that stays square to the target.
As mentioned on the last lesson blog, many newer players have a fear of missing the ball with the club face. Understood. In more detail, newer players fear the club face will glance the side of the ball and ricochet the ball to right, commonly referred to as a shank (actually, this isn’t technically a shank, but you get the idea). This fear manifests in a club face that is held firmly square to (or facing) the target as long as possible during the back swing, down swing and follow through, thus severely stifling club head speed, causing the player to over swing. Other effects of this closed club face action are low trajectories, leftward ball flights and thinly struck golf balls. This is very common among newer players.
We had to get Susan releasing the club. The first step in this endeavor was having her feel comfortable opening the club face on the back swing. Even the sound of that is a little scary, especially to newer players. “Opening” the club face implies artificially twisting or manipulating the club during the backswing. Actually, what Susan had to accept was simply allowing the club face to rotate naturally with her body’s rotation. This is indicated by having the toe of the club pointing up by the time the shaft of the club is parallel to the ground, on the back swing. From this position Susan is better equipped to feel the club rotate to a square angle for the strike and a closed angle on the follow through, discovering that the club face rotates through the impact area like how a two way door swings through it’s threshold. To facilitate this action I encouraged Susan to rotate her right hand over her left hand through impact and into the follow through. A good drill to cultivate this move is to hit golf balls with the right hand only.
A few tries and Susan started to feel the benefits of the release in terms of the effortless club head speed, the higher trajectories and much straighter ball flight.
Thanks for reading..Check out Susan’s perspective here: http://funhappyenjoy.com
Well, Susan and I met again and picked up right where we left off from lesson number 2. We emphasized stability, rotation and, of course, the downward strike, all of which are slowly beginning to sink in and take root. With a little reminder here and tweak there Susan’s ability to achieve a clean strike with efficient, effective movement fell into stride rather quickly. Now, time to change our focus, somewhat.
Now that a solid layer of fundamentals has been laid down it seemed appropriate to begin building the outline and basic structure of Susan’s swing upon this foundation. There are a few basics to swing structure; one is the width of the swing arc or radius, two is the plain on which this arc swings.
When addressing ones swing plain and swing structure I find it very effective to use video feedback. The reason for this is spacial awareness. That fact is one’s own spacial awareness is very subjective. Susan ‘felt’ as if she was swinging the club to a certain position on her back swing, and that position ‘felt’ correct. After seeing her swing on video she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “There’s no way the club is that far off plain.” What Susan was feeling wasn’t what she was doing….this is why Tour Professionals take lessons. What we think we’re doing in a golf swing is very often completely different from we’re actually doing in a golf swing.
Susan’s backswing was far too low, flat, inside and shut to achieve a clean strike without requiring a burdensome amount of manipulation on the downswing to pull it off. However, this radical manipulation was part of Susan’s “hit reflex”. So, conforming her backswing to an appropriate swing plain was only half the fix since her hit reflex compensated for such a poor starting point. After seeing the vid Susan corrected her swing plain, but had diminished returns due to the persistent and complicated hit reflex which was still reacting to the old, flat, inside and closed position. The new, more ‘on plain’ back swing was much simpler and made it way easier for Susan to strike the ball, yet her hit reflex didn’t find it trust worthy. Susan’s strike pattern, hit reflex…whatever you want to call it…still felt the need to over manipulate club head through impact. It wasn’t until after a lot of repetition and a conscience, unnatural change to her hand action that both the new swing plain and a more simple hit reflex began to complement one another.
Thanks for reading..Check out Susan’s perspective here: http://funhappyenjoy.com
So to review, the first and most important thing we covered with Susan on our first lesson was the concept of the downward strike with an iron. Our second lesson we spent a little time revisiting the basics of the strike and then added a couple key elements to the building of a full swing. I also took this opportunity to explain and emphasize the importance of a proper warm up when it comes to practice.
A PROPPER WARM UP
When we step up to a fresh bucket of golf balls on the driving range, and it’s the first swing of the day, the first thing to establish is solid club to ball contact. I see too many new players begin a practice session by taking full swings right out of the gate. The problem with this is that your muscles are not warmed up, there is no blood flowing, and thus the sensitivity required to feel where the club head is relative to your body is inadequate. This often results in a series if miss hits and shanks.
The proper way to begin a practice session is with very small, controlled swings with an 8 or 9 iron or pitching wedge. There should be 2 goals in mind at this stage. The first goal is to establish clean club to ball contact. Even with an abbreviated, slow swing you’ll be able to tell when a ball is struck well and when a mis-hit occurs. With a small, controlled swing it’s much easier to make the minor adjustments we all have to make, during our warm up, to achieve good contact.
The second goal is to establish a proper connection between the rotating body and the swinging arms. It’s very common when cold for the arms to ‘out-swing’ the body, meaning the body just isn’t warmed up enough to turn as fast as the arms can swing. A good thought to accomplish this connection is to always keep your arms in front of the body as it rotates during the back swing, down swing and followthrough.
Now that Susan was well warmed up and making solid ball contact it was time to graduate from a short, chip shot like action into a slightly fuller expression of a golf swing. We aren’t ready just yet to make full swings but it is time to add a couple very important elements to her action that lay a good foundation on which to build a full swing.
The first ting we explored was weight shift. Susan discovered on lesson one the importance of having your mass distributed to the left side to ensure the club strike the ball first and the ground second. What we discovered on this lesson was how critical it is not to shift any weight to the right leg during the back swing. It feels very natural to shift almost 100% of ones mass to the right leg during the back swing and it does contribute to the overall fluidity of movement. However, nothing can sabotage a clean strike like excess sway and weight shift away from the target. At set up Susan had a 50/50 weight distribution. Back swing…50/50. Down swing….full distribution to the left side.
This new found ‘rigidity’ on her back swing was surprising to Susan as well as somewhat restrictive, but it allowed her to attack the ball from a much better position and slightly steeper angle, resulting in cleaner strikes and better ball flight.
The next area we explored was expanding the arc of the swing or the club head’s range of motion. We did this by adding a simple hinge of the wrists on both the end of the backswing and end of the followthrough. While having Susan maintain the same length arm swing as on lesson one, this new set-release action increased the arc of the club head without adding to the complication of the swing. With a slightly longer arc Susan was able to increase her club head speed without having to swing the club or her arms any faster, therefore maintaining controll. Once again, Susan experienced a much longer and higher ball flight.
Thanks for reading..Check out Susan’s perspective here: http://funhappyenjoy.com
Well, we had our first lesson and all in all I think it went very well for Susan. The first order of business was to see where she was in terms of her ability and if her current action reflected any inherent misconceptions she may have had, which is pretty standard for the first lesson with a new student.
WHAT WE STARTED WITH
After watching a few swings with a 9 iron, sure enough, there were some things that needed to be addressed right away, first and for most was the way Susan was trying to strike the ball. Other areas such as swing plain, weight shift and mechanical issues will be delt with down the road, as of now her concept of the strike (or more accurately misconcept) was preventing a lot of other important movements from taking place. So that’s what we started with…(full breakdown of the downward strike here…THE DOWNWARD STRIKE)
Like many students I see who are struggling with their game Susan was consciously trying to help or lift the ball into the air. This manner of striking a golf ball is completely counter to the intent and design of an iron. Trying to lift the ball into the air produces a weak strike and fails miserably at transferring any quality energy from the club-head to the golf ball often leading to a shank or missed hit golf ball. In the rare occasion Susan made contact with the ball the ensuing flight was much higher then a 9 iron should be and the overall yardage was way short of what she is capable of producing with that club.
HOW WE FIXED IT
We started with what could be called long chip shots…placing the ball back in her stance, predistributing her weight to her left side (Susan is a right handed golfer), using an abbreviated backswing and having her keep her arms as straight as possible. Now, the tricky part: getting her to hit the ball THEN THE EARTH…One thing that is common with many new golfers is there reluctance to take a divot. Having picked the ball off the ground for so long Susan was no exception, but I had to convince her that it was ok to aggressively smash the earth, but to do so after smashing the ball. A very effective way of accomplishing this is with the focal point of the eyes. The club-head generally hits the ground where the eyes are looking, so I had Susan focus her eyes on a spot about 3 inches in front of the golf ball (on the target side). I even placed a tee there so she would have something to focus on. I then asked her to smash that tee as hard as she could, not concerning herself with the golfball. After a few attempts and a few misses she finally caught one right on the sweet spot and the ball shot off the club-face in a way she had never felt before, flying much further than she expected with such a short, easy swing.
HOW WE FINISHED
After a few more successful strikes Susan’s swing started to ‘buy into’ the concept of the downward strike. Feeling more comfortable with each try and with a much shorter swing than when we started Susan began hitting the ball the same distance as before but with a much easier and more controlled action. In a short period of time she began hitting the ball much further than she’d ever experienced.
Now with this first step in place we can begin to address the other fundamental issues with Susan’s swing.
Thank you for reading and check back soon to see what those issues are and how we are going to tackle them. Our next lesson should be in about a week or so.
Thanks, and see you at the course!
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com
Akron, Ohio — Tiger Woods hurt his back during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday and withdrew after hitting his tee shot on the ninth hole.
Woods was in visible pain trying to pick up his tee and later at his car in the parking lot, where in brief remarks he said he “jarred it” when he jumped into a fairway bunker on the second hole after hitting a shot from an awkward stance.
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The 14-time major winner was in distress at his car as he attempted to take off his golf shoes and change into tennis shoes. He could barely stand, bracing himself at the back of the vehicle, unable to tie his shoes.
“It happened on the second hole when I hit my second shot, I fell back into the bunker,” Woods said. “I just jarred it, and it’s been spasming ever since.”
The stance outside of the bunker was an awkward one, as he basically swung off his right leg — the ball too close to the bunker to take a regular stance. He fell back into the steep bunker and then ran to the bottom, and while he didn’t show much discomfort at the time, his caddie, Joe LaCava, said Woods was hurting the rest of the way.
“He did a good job of masking it,” LaCava said.
Woods hit several poor shots at the fifth, sixth and seventh holes, playing them in 3 over. He parred the 8th, then hit a 315-yard drive at the ninth but could barely bend over to pick up his tee. He then summoned a golf cart and had difficulty sitting in it.
Tiger Woods withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone after his “whole” lower back began hurting.
Woods had surgery on March 31 to alleviate a pinched nerve in his back following just four tournaments in 2014. He withdrew from the Honda Classic during the final round and then played the WGC-Cadillac Championship the next week, shooting a third-round 66 but finding himself in distress during a final-round 78.
According to Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, Woods is “back in Florida, [for] evaluation and then treatment.”
Playing partner Bubba Watson didn’t see Woods hit his shot on the second hole but knew something was amiss as he played poorly over the rest of the front nine.
“He hit some shots that we’re not used to seeing Tiger hit, even when he’s coming back from an injury like this,” Watson said. “We don’t see shots like that.
“So obviously, something was bothering him, and so you could kind of tell something was going on, and then when he hit the shot [on the ninth hole], hit the draw, he probably wasn’t trying to play a draw on 9, and when he came over it like that, his back probably tightened up and caused the draw.
“Again, like I told him when I shook his hand, I said, ‘I’m praying for you. Hope everything turns out good. Hope to see you next week.'”
In several interviews since the surgery, Woods said that the pain he felt in his back prior to the surgery left him wondering about his future in golf.
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“I couldn’t get out of bed,” he said.
That pain went away following the surgery called a microdiscectomy, Woods said, and he had reported no issues with his back until Sunday.
Woods returned earlier than expected in June at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club, where he missed the cut. After an opening-round 69 at the Open Championship, Woods faltered and finished 69th, his worst 72-hole finish in a major as a pro.
This was his third tournament back on a Firestone Country Club course where he has won eight times. He opened the tournament with a 68 but got progressively worse and was 3-over par for his round when he withdrew Sunday.
“It’s just the whole lower back, I don’t know what happened,” he said.
Woods’ status for the PGA Championship this week in Louisville, in which he is scheduled to play, is unclear.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Just trying to get out of here.”
Phil Mickelson, who is scheduled to play with Woods in the first two rounds of the PGA Championship, saw Woods struggling on the ninth hole while he was playing the 11th.
“It didn’t look good,” Mickelson said. “It looked like he was really in pain. I hope he’s OK. I mean, I hope he’s able to play next week. I hope it’s a muscle and nothing serious because I’m really looking forward to playing with him. We rarely get paired together. If we do, it’s been early Saturday.
“So it’s nice to be paired together and have a couple of rounds and I hope he’s able to play it. As much as I love playing with him, playing against him, trying to beat him, it’s we all want him in the field. We all want him back. I just hope he’s OK.”
Just past 12 weeks to the day from when he had surgery on his back, Tiger Woods will return to competitive golf next week at the PGA Tour event outside of Washington, D.C.
Woods announced the decision Friday afternoon via his Facebook account, acknowledging that he will be “a bit rusty” for the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club.
The tournament, in its eighth year, benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation and has a new title sponsor. That likely has something to do with Woods’ decision to try and play.
And so does getting ready for the Open Championship next month at Royal Liverpool, where he won the last of his three Claret Jugs in 2006.
“After a lot of therapy I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National,” Woods said in the Facebook post. “I’ve just started to hit full shots but it’s time to take the next step. I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead.”
Woods, 38, had a procedure called a microdiscectomy on March 31 to alleviate a pinched nerve in his back. He had played just four times in 2014, with lackluster results. Woods had back problems late last year, but they first became apparent again on March 2 during the final round of the Honda Classic. He withdrew following 13 holes.
A week later, Woods returned for the WGC-Cadillac Championship, where he fired a 66 during the third round to get into contention. But the back issues got worse the next day as Woods shot 78 and failed to make a birdie. He tied for 25th and hasn’t played since.
He missed the Masters for the first time in his professional career as well as last week’s U.S. Open. He has missed six major championships over the past six years.
At a media day for the Quicken Loans event last month, Woods said he had yet to begin hitting full shots and admitted the discomfort associated with his back problems prior to surgery had him questioning his future.
“The time right before the surgery, I really couldn’t do much,” Woods said on May 19. “Getting out of bed was a task, and forget about playing golf at the highest level. I couldn’t get out of bed. So yeah, I was certainly doubtful at that point.
“What was I going to feel like? Am I going to be pain free? Am I actually going to be able to do this again where I can get out of bed and go out there and play with my kids and play golf?
“All those things are up in the air. But after I had the procedure, it was immediate relief, and it’s just a matter of getting through that pain part. It wasn’t the shocking pain or debilitating pain, it was just pain from the surgery, from the incision, but it wasn’t like it was right before.”
The last of Woods’ 79 victories came in August at the Bridgestone Invitational. The following week he experienced back pain at the PGA Championship and again two weeks later at the Barclays.
Woods’ offseason was spent trying to manage the back problems and prepare for 2014, all of which went awry just three tournaments into the season.
Now, if he remains healthy, he brings back into play two major championships as well as qualifying for the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs as well as showing U.S. captain Tom Watsonthat he is fit to play the Ryder Cup in September.
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By Kyle Porter | Golf Writer
According to Tim Rosaforte of Golf Channel, Tiger Woods is taking full swings with the golf club again — including his driver.
When agent Mark Steinberg was pressed on the matter, he confessed that Woods had been swinging a little bit, according to Bob Harig of ESPN.
“Tiger is making continual progress,” Steinberg said. “He feels better each day and is extending his swing as he progresses.”
With the British Open still five weeks away it sounds like Woods might be ready in time.
I’ve said all along that I’d be surprised if he played that tournament, thinking he’d opt for a more comfortable venue (like the Bridgestone Invitational) but now I think I’d be surprised if he missed it.
Woods isn’t one to skip out on majors if he can give them a go and he won at Royal Liverpool back in 2006.
Either way, the sport could use him as US Open ratings were down by almost 50 percent from last season.
Woods is the 7-1 favorite to win the British Open.
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