Thursday, January 24, 2013

New and Improved

Thanks for visiting Golf Digest--Digested.  In our efforts to continually improve, a new website has been created.  In it, we review the instructional articles in each month's issues of both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.

If you read these magazines, you will find these reviews very helpful.  The new site also contains a glossary of those many terms frequently used but seldom defined.

Here is the new site:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mis-lead by Leadbetter

Golf Digest   September 2012   p.27

Making a longer putt should be accomplished the same way you would make a longer toss of a ball.  Make a short toss and then make a much longer one and you will find that you accomplish it by making you arm swing along a longer arc--not more effort to accelerate your arm, more time.  If you use a basketball, and make two-handed, side-armed tosses you will find this is exactly analogous to putting.

In his article, David suggests that putting distance should be a function of swing size--good so far.  But then the train comes off the track.  He writes, "No matter the length, the key to good putting is hitting the ball at the right pace."  A good putt is not about pace alone.  A good putt requires enough speed to reach the target but also must be on the correct line.  Good putting is the combination of speed and direction.  One or the other is inadequate.

His confusion doesn't stop there.  He goes on to say if your rhythm improves "'ll start to give the longer ones a better chance of dropping."  Rhythm has nothing to do with the length of the putt.  The swinging motion by definition is rhythmic.  Every putt from a 3 footer to a 20 footer and everything in between should be rhythmic.  But do not be confused by David's remarks.  Your stroke can be perfectly rhythmic and result in the putt being 4 foot too short or 4 food too long.

Bottom Line:  Use a swinging motion for putting (this will make the stroke rhythmic).  Accomplish sending the ball different distances by varying the size of the arc along which you swing the putter.  Finally, putting is about both pace and direction.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Haney Goes Haywire

Golf Digest   August 2012   p.48

The instructional article is titled "Hit It Solid Every Time".  So let's spend one minute asking ourselves what does "solid" mean.  If we cornered your foursome and at gunpoint forced them to come up with the meaning of "solid" in the context of striking a golf ball, the odds would be pretty good that the foursome would agree on 1) the ball be contacted by the center of the clubface, and 2)the clubface being square to the target line at impact.  For good measure they might also throw in that the club should be swinging along the target line.
Hank's formula to accomplish these three conditions is to have the handle lead the head into impact.  You are likely asking yourself how does the handle leading the swing create center contact, square clubface, and the swing's direction.  Answer:  One has no relation to the other.
If Haney's article had been titled, "One Way to Minimize Fat Shots" he would have been golden.

P.S.  If you want to use this technique, remember not to try it with less than a six iron.  If you lean the shaft this far forward with a five or less you won't get the ball airborne.

Learn more about Heartland Golf Schools.  Click here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Your New Bunker Setup

Golf Digest  August 2012  p.32

I had great hopes for this most recent instructional article from Sean Foley.  The article opens with a reasonable proposition: " By now I'm sure you know the key to hitting greenside bunker shots is making sand-first contact and skimming your wedge under the ball."  While Sean's "key" overlooks the importance of achieving the correct distance and direction, I proceeded with interest to learn about contact and skimming.
From there we are taken on a journey into Foley-Land where instruction defies reason and clarity.  Open stance--check.  Ball off left heel--check.  Belt buckle closer to target than sternum--huh?  So the sternum can face the right foot or left as long as my belt buckle is closer to the target?  The player then needs to feel pressure in the left thigh?  Pressure results from pressing.  Perhaps what Sean means is to feel tension from that muscle supporting our weight since we are leaning forward.
So the recipe for contact and skimming is: stance, ball position, sternum/belt buckle position, and left thigh tension.  Really?  Is there a golfer anywhere on the planet who could satisfy these four conditions and not hit it fat or blade it into the next county?

When it comes to his Golf Digest instructional articles, Sean is batting a thousand.  Not one of them stand up to a careful reading.  And unless he his giving Golf Digest something different than he is giving Tiger Woods, I continue to be suspicious as to whether he is Tiger's solution or problem. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Release the Club

Golf Digest July 2012 page 36

I have yet to read a Sean Foley article that does not leave me suspicious that he is more the problem than the solution when it comes to Tiger Woods.  Take a look at this article and let's assume that he gives Tiger comparable instruction.

Let's begin by considering his instruction to "focus on unhinging your wrists during the downswing".  I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is not proposing a "casting" action with the hands but he does leave it mysterious as to how the player is supposed to make this happen.  It has always been our position that this unhinging is a function of centrifugal force and is something that you "let happen" instead of "make happen".  Holding the lag prevents it from happening.

Foley then proceeds to explain that the wrists are unhinged "so your arms are nearly straight at impact".  How does a movement of the wrists straighten the arms?  Is he referring to the arm, the forearm, or both?  In the three photos in the article it appears that the arms are "straight in all of them".  By straight does he mean the elbows are fully unfolded?  If so how do the wrists cause this to happen?

But the fun doesn't stop here.  He then explains that the wrists should be square to your target at impact.  I'm assuming that he means the axis on which the wrist hinges should be square to the target line since the target is a point and you cannot draw a line perpendicular to a point. Now, look at the center photo and you will see the Nike swoosh on his golf glove.  The axis on which his wrist is flexed is not close to square to the target line.  Instead its probably 20 degrees of the target line.  (Yes, as the club proceeds to impact the shoulders will continue turning and that 20 degrees will decrease--but not to zero).

Lastly, Sean makes the remark that the left arm (I think he means forearm) "naturally rotates".  If the left arm rotates, it rotate the left hand.  If you rotate the left hand you also rotate the right hand.  If you rotate the hands you hook the shot.  Want to see what that looks like?  Look at the photo of Hunter Mahan on the adjoining page.   In the photos of Foley's swing, the forearm is not rotated in the third frame (despite the yellow arrow).  What happens is that the shoulders continue to turn and as they change their relationship to the target line so do the forearms, wrists, hands, and club.

Foley--problem or solution.  I'm suspicious.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 2012
Read the letters to the editor and this magazine appears to dispense miraculous cures.  Listen to your golfing friends who read the publication and you can hear agonizing tales of frustration.  Who is telling the truth?  Both.  The magazine gets somethings right--some not.  We sort this out for you.  Read below.

Lesson Tee / Yani Tseng.  Her coach, Gary Gilchrist, says, "So we are working on Yani's preparation and setup, and on training muscle memory."  For years we have known that muscles have no memory capability.  They respond to brain impulses but remember nothing.  What else is Gary doing that is not in Yani's interest?
Avoid the Dreaded Chili-Dip.  Snake oil.  When a player scoops, are they wanting the ball to go high or low?  The solution to scooping is simple.  Change your intention from "high" to "forward".
To Get the Right Pace, Use The Saw.  The "saw grip" can help with pace only if you have an uncontrollable hitting action (hand action) during your swing.
Fade It With Control.  Hank explains, "the clubface must be slightly open".  Actually, the clubface must be slightly out-of-square (open is when it is out-of-square and rotated to create additional loft).  Hank's approach is "dynamic" (i.e. we are changing the action of the club during the swing).  An alternative is "static" (i.e. change the setup by positioning your hands when they are rotated to your right, or setting up with the ball more rearward in the stance).
7 Things All Great Players Do.  1-6 are pretty good.
The Easy Way to Hit the Hardest Shot.  Ben's technique is ok.  The unspoken factor is practice.  The challenge in 50-yard bunker shots is less a matter of technique and more a matter of experience so we have some idea as to how big the swing should be.  Bunkers 50 yards from the green are a rarity--so are the opportunities to develop experience.
How to Fix Chops & Chunks. (read the blog post following this one).

Golf Digest gets it right sometimes.  Rarely do we find an article that is correct from start to end.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to Fix Chops + Chunks (not really)

Golf Digest April 2012 page 111

This instruction is described as, "a revolutionary system helps you make solid contact on every shot."

First, lets agree on the meaning of solid: clubface square to the target line at impact and ball contact on the center of the clubface.

Second, the content of this instruction has NOTHING to do with solid contact but instead describes a bizarre set of contortions to achieve a swing that has the club sweeping along the grass instead of crashing into it.  There are much simpler and more sensible ways to achieve the sweeping action.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for "solid contact", look elsewhere.  If you are troubled by your swing digging the clubhead into the turf, look elsewhere.