Monday, February 13, 2012

Foley's Folly -- Again

Golf Digest March 2012

Tiger Woods did not seal the deal at the AT&T.  Sean Foley cannot be excluded as a contributing factor.  The absurdity of Foley's instruction to Woods, are exemplified in his latest pontification in the Golf Digest article, "Simple Way to Hit a Soft Pitch."

Sean begins by clarifying that by "soft pitch" he means a lob shot in which you are going to open the clubface to increase the shot's trajectory.  He explains that this is difficult because: the added loft of the club means that the swing must be bigger and,  that the open clubface will send the ball to the right.

His alternative is as follows:
  • play the ball forward in your stance with the clubface square to the target line [so far, so good] [this will increase trajectory, but therefore also means that you must make a bigger swing]
  • lower your hands to add more loft [Whoops!  Lowering you hands does nothing to add loft]
  • keep shoulders and hips square [square means "at 90 degrees][let's assume he means parallel to the target line], then drop your left foot so the stance line is left of target.
  • swing the club down along the stance line [you would hit your toes][lets assume he means parallel to the stance line][its physically impossible to swing parallel to your stance line if your shoulders and hips are parallel to the target line]
When you follow his direction, you wind up with the very same shot he was attempting to circumvent:  the forward swing is left of the backswing,  the ball travels to the right of the forward swing, and the swing must be bigger.

Bottom Line:  This is typical of Sean Foley's articles.  They do not accurately describe what is prescribed and are not likely to produce the preferred result.  Let's hope Tiger makes a change.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Swing in a Circle

Golf Magazine March 2012

During the 2012 AT&T Pro-Am broadcast, the commentators did a slo-mo on many of the amateur's tee shots on the par 3 16th hole.  Almost everyone of them would have benefited from this article.  It is likely you will too!

In this article, Y.E. Yang makes a simple suggestion that can produce a profound improvement in our golf shots.  His simple suggestion is to change our mental image we have of our golf swing.  For many players, their focus is on the ball.  In those cases the player accelerates the club to the ball.  This results in two frequent problems:
  • the attack angle becomes very steep and the club digs into the ground.  Whereas the path of the backswing was circular, the path of the forward swing is linear.
  • the player unconsciously decelerates the club preparing for it to hit the ground
Yang's suggestion is that our intention should not be to swing the club to the ball but instead to intend to swing the club in a circle until it ends hanging over our left shoulder.  While many players will have the club hanging over their left shoulder at the conclusion of making a shot, only a small number of them intend to power the swing to that end point.  For most of those players the club was swung to the ball with the residual momentum carrying it over the shoulder.

Here are the two take-aways from Yang's article:
  • practice observing the first half of your forward swing (especially the first two feet) and ensure that the swing is circular in motion.  When it is you will probably find the club approaching the ball on a much more gradual/sweeping manner.
  • practice having the end of your swing (club hanging over your left shoulder) be the endpoint of your swing and not the ball.
Bottom Line:  The swing is a circular motion.  The forward swing begins at 11 o'clock over our back shoulder and ends (not at the ball) but at 1 o'clock over our front shoulder.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

5-minute Slice Fix

Golf Digest February 2012


First, lets look at the title of the article, "This is why you slice. Give me five minutes and I'll fix it." Now read the testimonials. He did not fix the slice (ball flight curves right) he just replaced it with a draw (ball flight curves left). In Hank's own words "every good player in the history of the game has fought a hook. So the answer to the slice is to introduce the player to hooking? That's like saying topping the ball is the answer to fat shots. The only left curving ball flight that is desirable is one that is consistent. Learning the precision to swing the club to produce a consistent 5-10 yard draw is no less challenging than learning to produce a straight shot that varies from the centerline of the fairway by 5-10 yards.

Listen to Hank's opening remarks.  He says I can teach you to hook a ball in 5-minutes.  Hooking the ball is not a fix for the slice.  Not one of the players' testimonials said that their slice was fixed. They did say that they changed to curving the ball left. Welcome to the beginning of fighting a hook--a lower trajectory that runs toward the left rough.

Read the Golf Digest article

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Putting with Feel

Golf Digest February 2012

This article is so full of contradictions and I can only suggest that we start with the beginning of the article and work our way through.

Todd begins with this recommendation, "forget about stroke mechanics and focus on reading break and rolling the ball on the line."  The purpose of practicing stroke mechanics is to enable the golfer to roll the ball on the line.

Next Todd recommends that players "keep the face as square as you can throughout the stroke."  Remember the old saying, "do as I say and not as I do?"  Look at Todd's putter face at the end of his back swing (p. 129).  The putter face is not square to the target line.  Despite what Todd writes, the putter face does not stay square to the target line.  Nor is it useful to think that the putter face is opening and closing.  Instead, imagine a line connecting his left bicep with his right bicep.  At address notice how the putter face is square to that line.  For the duration of the putt the face stays square to that line.

His information on setup is conflicted.  "...your forearms line up with the shaft."  Here again, Todd doesn't do what he says to do (nor should we).  Look at the dotted yellow line indicating the shaft alignment.  If you continue that line you will see that it does not align with his forearm.  It's close, but it does not line up nor will yours.  Attempting to create such alignment will distort your posture and will prevent the putter from being soled properly.

While the putting stroke is certainly pendulum-like, Todd's description of "letting the putter head fall is not the most helpful.  Instead of falling, consider the tossing motion as an analogy.  More specifically, at address imagine that instead of holding your putter with two hands you are holding a volleyball with two hands.  You are going to make a two-handed toss sending the volleyball along your target line.  Even if it was to a nearby target, you would not make a backswing and then let your arms fall.  Instead the backswing would be given distance allowing the use of your muscles to create an armswing that would propel the ball to the target.  Putting is not a "falling" motion, it is a swinging motion.

When it comes to setting up for a putt, Todd invents a problem to justify his solution.  For breaking putts, many players choose an alignment target ( a spot on the high side of the hole) to putt to.  Todd says that we cannot keep our attention on that spot but instead will be drawn to shift our attention to the hole and role the ball to the hole instead of the spot.  While this is certainly a possibility, during 15 years of instruction I have never seen this as a frequent problem.  And as for his suggestion for "playing more break" to avoid missing the putt on the low side, missing it on the high side is no less of a problem.  In fact, if you miss on the low side you are more likely to have an uphill putt instead of a downhill putt.

Puzzlingly,  while Todd warns us against seeing the hole and the resulting misdirection of our swing, he closes the article by describing the last step in the putting process to be "turn you attention back to the hole and to rolling the ball the correct distance."  By the way,  I was never able to figure out why Todd entitled this article, "Putting with Feel".

Learn to Repeat Your Putting Stroke

Golf Digest / August 2011 / p. 26

In this article the golfer is told to focus their attention on the triangle formed by the arms and shoulders.  In the article’s photos, this triangle can be seen as a yellow overlay.  The article reads, “Ideally, you want your hands and arms working in unison with your chest and shoulders to control the putter’s motion.”

When the player sets up for a putt, a setup that is most widely used among all tour players is for the putter to be centered in the stance.  When it is, a “Y” is formed.  Turn your attention not to the triangle formed by the shoulder line and arms but instead to the “Y” formed by the arms and the club.  When this “Y” is maintained on the backswing and the forward swing, the putter will contact the ball in the precise position which you created at setup.  It is the “Y” that will produce the repeating putting stroke.

Interestingly, if you look at the photo you will see the weakness in the instruction as written in the article.  Notice the “Y” in the center and right photo.  Now notice that the “Y” (upper case), has changed to a “y” (lower case) because the club has changed its position.  The arms and shoulders still have the triangle, but the ball will be sent offline to the right because of the change in the club.
Bottom Line:  Regarding this article, disregard the triangle and pay attention to the “Y”.  Its all about the club.  Make the club swing correctly and disregard the body.