Putting Connection – Feel vs Real

March 3rd, 2011

There are very good putters in golf who do things very differently: tempo, face angle, path of the putter, rise angle through the ball,and hand position all come into play.

However, they all have confidence in the feel of their stroke. A good example of this is Steve Stricker, who is well know for being one of the best putters on the PGA tour. Stricker has commented that he feels he takes the putter” straight back and straight through”. Anyone who has watched him would agree; this is just his “feel”, as his putter clearly does not travel this way! One of the main reasons a golfer loses confidence in the putting stroke (or never achieves it)  is that players lose the feel of connection incorporating the hands, arms, and body.

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Playing with Perspective in Golf

July 9th, 2010

By Brent Morrison

Typically as golfers we have always been told that we should play away from trouble on our lay up shots to have a clear shot into the green. Depending on whether the golfer is right- or left-handed, this may not always be the case, as our mind and eyes will work together toward a conviction of confidence – or doubt – in our ability to execute the shot.

Let’s look at an example: On this hole we have a deep, narrow green with bunkers on the back and right as well as water on the left guarding the green. As the last thing we see is the first thing we remember, right-handed golfers will want to be on the right side of the fairway to keep their backs to the water. Glancing over the left shoulder at the target before swinging, the right-handed golfer will be graced with a visually pleasing and non-threatening view of the green.

But what about the plight of the left-handed golfer in the same position? More water than green will be visible; a situation which typically complicates many golfers’ swing thoughts and erodes confidence. In this case, visually it may be better for the left hander to come in from the left side of the fairway.

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Hitting The Sweet Spot

February 7th, 2009

By Brent Morrison

When trying to increase the distance the ball travels (especially off the tee) the degree of difficulty increases significantly. While there are many reasons this is so, the most common error is failing to hit the ball off the center of the clubface, or sweet spot.

Most golfers can likely recall a short chip shot that felt great but traveled way too far. We have all seen this happen and it is very common with beginners. They take a big swing and the ball dribbles a few feet away in front of them. Then they get closer to the green and with a smaller, more controlled motion, hit the sweet spot of the club and the ball soars over the green!

Tests at Golfsmith have shown that if you miss the sweet spot by an inch or more (which is not much considering the size of the newer driver heads) the distance lost ranges between 14 and 20 percent. So, on a 240-yard carry drive the distance lost can be 45 yards.

While many players will continually search for the latest and greatest golf club, I suggest you initially learn how to hit it off the sweet spot each time. I have taught the following drill for years and have found it’s the easiest way for students to feel the sweet spot.

7 o’clock to 1 o’clock Drill
The red target line is parallel to the player’s toe line and represents the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions. The yellow line represents the 7 o’clock and 1 o’clock positions and will give you the correct sensation for the correct path of the golf club.

  • From a half backswing position, feel the sensation of the club dropping down at the 7 o’clock position and swinging out to the 1 o’clock position.
  • You may feel as though the ball will actually travel out to the right. However with the proper rotation of your body, the club will actually be pulled inside and down the intended 12 o’clock target line.

“Tension” in the Golf Swing?

January 4th, 2009

By Adam Ridgewell, DO, ND, Golf Biomechanic (C.H.E.K)

“Tension” is probably not a word that most teaching pros use, when walking someone through the basics of the golf swing! Believe it or not, we are actually stretching and ‘tensing’ muscles when creating any sort of purposeful movement, especially when that movement involves rotation. Furthermore, when a movement requires refined, powerful movements, a much bigger demand is placed on the nervous system and the soft tissues of the body. So what is “Tension”? A Dictionary definition in engineering terms, offers the following meaning:

Tension is a pulling force that acts in one direction; an example is the force in a cable holding a weight. Under tension, a material usually stretches, returning to its original length if the force does not exceed the material’s elastic limit. Under larger tensions, the material does not return completely to its original condition, and under even greater forces the material ruptures. (Source- MSN Encarta Dictionary)

With any throwing/hitting motion, there has to be a starting point and an end point. We achieve this starting point by shifting weight and do the same to achieve the end point. In other words, we must load one part of the body in order to store or create potential energy that will determine the amount of energy that we can put back into our throwing or hitting movement.

As we start to shift weight one way, we simultaneously create ‘stretch’ in the tissues that will be used to provide the energy for the throwing motion. This happens naturally, otherwise, we wouldn’t move! The only way this can be achieved efficiently, is to apply what is called “body-part disassociation”, i.e. when one part of our body is moving one way (shoulders and arms), another part (hips) is moving the opposite way. Of course there are some players who are more flexible and coordinated than others, and will have less difficulty in executing this type of movement. So, in the definition above, the ‘cable’ is the chain of muscles that run from the inner knee to the opposite lower abdominals, and the ‘weight’ is the mass of the moving upper body, arms and club-head, going into the backswing. (see pictures below)

What happens to our muscles as we move?
In simple terms, as a muscle comes to the end of its potential length and its ability to offer a counter-stretching force, movement in that vector slows down and any further movement is transferred to other body-parts. If the muscles and ligaments in those other body-parts are not flexible enough, movement then stops altogether and this is how a muscle strain/ ligament sprain occurs. Different pain tolerances in different individuals determine how they will deal with the ensuing injury in terms of how many times they can execute this movement before tissues start to breakdown and permanent changes are set up. If the learned movement/ skill is performed repetitively over a long period of time, the tissue breakdown occurs in the same vectors/ planes of movement. This is why cross-training is so important to reduce these types of injuries.

Specifics in Golf
Let’s try to understand the build up of ‘TENSION’ in the backswing, and the importance of having good flexibility and strength to achieve this. Some basic anatomy first though- (this is for a right-handed golfer; lefties, just flip it around!)

Depending on the teaching pro you speak to, the backswing movement may start as a move back with the club-head onto the swing path or as a one-piece take-away, but for the purposes of this article, the upper body will move on top of a relatively stationary lower body.

In order to shift weight to your right hip in the backswing, the movement originates from the left shoulder rotating under your neck. The movement then travels down by rotation of the spine, until it reaches your lower abdominal muscles on the right, which have by now, created ‘TENSION’ as they come to the end of their potential length.

Ideally, considering that your lower body is still stationary at this point, the left knee-cap should fall just in-line with the your left, inner ankle. Further rotation of the body occurs by loading your right pelvis onto its adjoining hip joint thereby stressing the tissues in the back of the hip (buttock muscles/ ligaments). At every stage of movement, stretching commences and stops to create ‘TENSION’ in each body part, by starting and stopping their vectors of movement.

In doing so, and this is the point I am trying to make, this creates the ‘TENSION’ between the adductor (groin) muscles in the left leg, remaining nearer the target and the right side of the lower trunk moving away from it. Here we have a “mini power factory” of potential energy that can be unleashed, to move the hips dynamically and at speed. See the white rubber band attached to my left knee and upper attachment in the right lower abdominals? This demonstrates the potential energy created in this chain of muscles if ‘TENSION’ is allowed to build, by keeping the left foot rooted to the ground.

Tension
Tension

Tension
Tension-less

Here’s the important part: TO CREATE TENSION IN THE HUMAN BODY, YOU NEED FLEXIBILITY AND STRENGTH!!!

Now let’s just say that you don’t have any flexibility in your right hip and spinal muscles. Well, you’re thinking “If I get more rotation in my backswing, I’ll generate way more coil and I’ll be able to hit that ball at least 270!” The problem for the nervous system, which by the way, has been orchestrating things ever since you picked up the driver for that tee shot, is- to do this with no hip and spinal flexibility. Mmm.

Solutions
In years gone past, the left ankle would be raised off the ground to complete a fuller turn in the backswing. There is many an amateur who still employs this move in their golf swing. The bottom picture demonstrates that, as the player brings their left heel off the ground it allows the body to load the right hip further and hopefully get that club parallel. In doing so, even if you have good shoulder, neck and spinal flexibility, you may move off the ball by moving too far right, thus creating neck and eye strain, as you try and keep your eye on the ball. If you don’t have shoulder/spine flexibility, you move into the infamous “reverse-C” position and more than likely end up having to make last-second changes in your downswing to achieve a square club face and prevent that all-embarrassing slice. Most importantly though, no anchor-point is created by leaving the left foot and knee behind, so no build-up of TENSION takes place in the chain of muscles running from the left knee to the right abdominals.

Most amateurs will also have a coinciding shoulder problem, as they start to use their shoulders, arms and hands to generate the potential power that has been lost in the lower body. So if you have a shoulder problem that is aggravated by playing golf, you should get your hip flexibility looked at!

If this thing called ‘TENSION’ is the missing link in your never-ending quest for more distance, a simple set of stretches and exercises will get you on your way. It can be achieved by many means, but it’s the DOING IT that counts! Just as you see your teaching pro on a regular basis, practice on a regular basis, you need to be exercising on a regular basis for the potentially damaging effects of this leisurely pastime, golf!

This article, I know, will create a barrage of comments, which I welcome, as I try to understand this game to the greatest of my abilities!

Thanks for reading!

Maximize your Energy on the Golf Course

December 5th, 2008

By Brent Morrison with Janie Rome Morrison

Proper hydration and nutrition can help you make a good round a great one. Here are some suggestions for optimizing your performance on the golf course:

Eat breakfast every day (at least 2 hours before a morning tee time). Breakfast should consist of 10-15% protein and 20-30% fat, which will help control blood sugars, as well as help you feel full longer. 60-65% of breakfast should come from complex carbohydrates of low glycemic index (GI). This means ingesting complex carbs that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream – no refined cereals or sugars! This will result in a smaller rise in blood glucose levels after eating, giving you a more consistent energy level, prolonging your physical and mental endurance and strengthening your game! For more information on the glycemic index, click here.

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Stoplight Golf Stretches

November 12th, 2008

By Penny McGuire

You can do these in the car to relieve neck/shoulder tension and headaches and improve focus. Sitting as straight as possible, press the back of your head into the head bolster. Hold for one full breath and on the second exhale gently release. Use your neck muscles only – not your shoulders/chest and abdominals. Slowly move your right ear towards your right shoulder as you move your right shoulder down towards your right hip, while still looking straight ahead out the windscreen. Hold for one full inhale, exhale, inhale and release on the second exhale and repeat on the other side. Do as often as necessary at every stop light!

Something to remember when you play your next game…
It’s all about confidence. Have you ever noticed how on the days you’re feeling on top of the world you have a great game? Next time, before you go out to play, do a ‘confidence check’. Ask yourself: “How am I feeling right now?” and “Do I want to take this attitude onto the course?” Just the recognition and the intention to change your mood is enough to begin a great game!

Back and Hamstring Stretches

November 7th, 2008

By Penny McGuire

This simple, quick stretch. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Bend your knees a little and slowly roll your upper body down towards the ground, like you are trying to touch your toes – but without ‘reaching’. Exhale on the way down and when you get as far down as comfortably can, stay there and let your shoulders and arms dangle freely. Relax your jaw and neck and feel gravity release any tension in your upper body.

If you feel straining in your legs or back, come up until this diminishes. When you are ready to come up, begin with a long inhale and slowly roll up. You can repeat this 3 or 4 times to really feel the benefit, see the increase in your range of motion and prevent injuries during your game.

Pre-Golf Chest Opener

October 25th, 2008

By Penny McGuire

Stand with the feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Engage the abdominals to ‘medium hold’ and hold a club behind your back, parallel with the ground. Walk your hands along the club until your thumbs and index fingers meet in the center of the club and the center of your behind.

Straighten your arms and elbows as much as possible and gently lift your chest up and away from the club as you take 5 deep, full breaths. Make sure not to arch the lower back by keeping your belly moving towards the spine and really feel your ribs lifting and opening with each breath.

Not only will this help your swing, but the deep breaths will bring more oxygen to your brain and body, giving you more mental and physical energy so you can make better game choices and keep your focus longer!

Post Golf Stretches

September 17th, 2008

By Penny McGuire

Lie on your back with both knees bent and the soles of the feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms out to either side, also flat on the floor.

Move your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, then let both knees fall gently to the right. As your knees move down try to keep your left shoulder moving toward the floor.

Take 5 deep breaths and then, engaging the abdominal, roll the knees back to center, the kneecaps facing the ceiling. Repeat other side.

You will find after golfing one side is tighter and more restricted than the other; repeat the exercise twice on that side to rebalance the entire body.

Yoga Stretches Before Golfing

August 1st, 2008

By Penny McGuire

Here’s a few quick pre round stretches to get your mind and body ready for a great game!

Stand with your feet hip width and parallel to each other. Take a club, hold each end with each hand behind your back. Positioning your hands shoulder width. Gently swing side to side, relaxing through the hips and all the way up to your shoulders and neck. Imagine all mental and physical distractions moving down your neck, shoulders and arms and leaving out through the ends of the club.

Take a deep breath and as you exhale fold forward bending at the hips, keeping the knees bent, and letting your arms, still holding your club, extend up and over. Imagine (when your shoulders are completely open and relaxed) the club and your hands would touch the floor behind your head.

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