Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Fundamentals--Wrong Fundamentals

Golf Digest April 2012 / p.47

By their nature, golf instructors are always looking for new insights into the golf swing or how to teach it.  Since we have been at this for hundreds of years, we should consider it rare to come upon "new" fundamentals.

In his article, Travis Fulton proposes: "When you're preparing to make a full swing, your right forearm should be roughly parallel with the club's shaft at address."  First of all, instructors need to do better than using words like "roughly".  That can leaves it open to the golfer for interpretation and poor results.  Secondly (and more importantly), if we look at the photo of Travis at address, his forearm is no where close to parallel to the shaft.

Travis further implies that this forearm/shaft relationship exists in putting.  Here he explains: "Your right forearm should be in line with the shaft."  Different from the situation with the full swing setup, here Travis's right forearm demonstrating precisely what he is prescribing.  However, does the prescription result in improved putting?  Take a look at the putter head.  Notice how the putter is angled and resting on its heel.  From this setup we know of four problems that are created:
  • the putter face is facing left--this is more apparent if you setup a wedge and rock it back on its heel.  You will find this cause the clubface to face to the left.
  • promotes clubface twisting--look at the leading edge of any putter.  You will find that the sole is rounded off at both the heel and the toe.  This effectively raises the sole off the round near the heel and toe.  This is done to reduce the likelihood of the heel or toe touching the ground and resulting in the putter face twisting.  Travis's setup nullifies this design feature and forces the sole of the putter to contact the ground at the heel.
  • misaligns the eyes--If you putter is the correct length for you, rocking the putter back on its heel will push you further away from the target line and move your eyes from being over the inside of the ball and instead position them 2-3 inches inside the line.
  • elevates the leading edge--Again, this can be more readily observed by rocking a wedge back onto its heel.  You expose the leading edge to the ball and make it less likely to contact the club on its sweet spot (MOI).
Those are the drawbacks to attempting this technique.  What are the benefits?  Here is what Travis says is the benefit for the full swing: "Many amateurs address the ball with their arms rigid and the right forearm too vertical."  Are your arms rigid and too vertical?

Here is the benefit Travis says his setup brings to putting:  "This address position allows you to easily move the putterhead on its natural arcing path without any extraneous hand adjustments."  Does your putterhead move on its natural arcing path without and extraneous hand adjustments?

Bottom Line:  Regarding the setup for a full swing, the photo reveals that what Travis is recommending is not what he is demonstrating.  Regarding the setup for putting, we have suggested that it results in four negative conditions for the putter.  We need instructors to always look for better ideas.  Before we commit to them, we need to make sure they are in fact better.    

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