Steve’s Tip of the Week

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Swing your Club like a Baseball Bat!

In the sporting world the golf swing has a brother which could actually be described almost like an identical twin. Would you believe the closest technique to golf is the Baseball swing!

The only noticable difference between the two sports is the spine angle used for the swing which is really linked to where the ball is hit from. To hit a baseball in mid air you have to be stood up straight and to hit a golf ball off the floor for golf you need to be bent over from the waist roughly between 30 – 45 Degree’s. When it comes to the arm swing and body movements they are practically identical!

This really highlighted one thing for me,  most golfers try to swing more up and down rather than more around their bodies. One of the big disadvantages of swinging up and down is that the longer clubs really wont be able to work to their full potential with the driver being the most dificult to use. If this sounds like you then there is a very simple solution swing the club like a baseball bat, around your body and not up and down!

To practice the correct swing position and movement the easiest thing to do is to make base ball practice swings.

Start by taking your normal stance and grip then lif the club up untill its level with your chest. Then swing the club around your body horizontally making sure the club head stays under shoulder height on the way back and through.  This movement should give you the right feeling to make a positive change in your swing which will result in more power and consistency. Once you get the feeling bend forward and make the same movement from a golf posture (bent from the waist).

So turn your Golf swing into a Baseball swing today to hit the ball better and further!

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Stick or Twist on your Golf Swing

20150516_104828Building a golf swing that’s natural is imperative when trying to reach your full potential as a golfer. But how do we know what is natural or if your golf swing is moving in the optimum way for you? We need to test otherwise it’s hard to know what is nature and what is nurture!

Twist test -

Get into a golf posture facing a mirror and place a club across the tops of your legs.

Twist naturally not necessarily how you would for a golf swing, twist in which ever way offers the least resistance. What happens to your hips in the test will dictate your best and most effective movement that should be happening in the golf swing.

What to look for -

Front leg pivoting golfer - you will see your rear pocket or rear leg moving back towards your front leg (the direction you would be hitting). With this type of pivot your rear leg should be allowed to straighten and the weight will feel like it shifts onto your front foot. (Right Picture)

Central pivoting golfer - you will see your hips turn in the centre neither moving forwards or backwards. To do this successfully your rear leg will straighten a touch and the weight will feel equally distributed between your front and rear foot. (Middle Picture)

Rear leg pivoting golfer - you will see your front pocket or front leg moving away from the target towards your rear leg. To do this successfully your rear leg must retain flex allowing your weight/pressure to shift onto the rear foot. (Left Picture)

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Once you’ve identified what style of pivot is natural you need to asses whether your swing currently uses your natural pivot motion or another that may have been trained! It’s easy to asses by taking a video of your swing from in front of you ‘face on’ checking for the same trait as described in the test. If it matches great, if it doesn’t change your twist to your natural motion (twist test result) and watch your golf develop in power and consistency.

Enjoy and good golfing.

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The Secrets in the Shoulder Turn

For anyone who slices the ball or struggles with power and distance the shoulder turn can hold the secret to greater consistency and the shot shape you’ve been dreaming of.

First we need to understand the problem. Golf is a game played on a tilted angle, our body is bent from the waist somewhere from 35 to 45 degrees and sometimes beyond.
The angle that we set at the address position is typically the angle of inclination that is maintained throughout the golf swing until somewhere near the finish. To achieve this the shoulders turn in a circle with the left shoulder moving downwards on the way back then the opposite movement on the way down with the right shoulder moving downwards whilst the body weight moves towards the target (this true for a right handed golfer and opposite for a left handed player).

The issue I see and fix all the time is the shoulders turning too level during the down swing as the player tries to hit the ball (right shoulder moving across and not down). As the shoulders turn too level the golfers hips and weight tend to move backwards creating problems with strike and creating the slice. The level shoulders also create too much rotation at impact which will make the club swing across the ball.

So what’s the solution? The shoulders need to turn in a circle. When the shoulders are turning too flat the player must exaggerate the opposite feelings I am about to explain in order to create a balanced shoulder movement.

So during the down swing you need to exaggerate two sensations, the first is of hitting the golf ball without turning your shoulder or torso at all. The reality will be that no matter how hard you try you will still turn adequately even though the torso feeling is of no turn at all. The other feeling you need to incorporate with no ‘turn’ is of the right shoulder moving downward towards your right foot (right handed golfer).

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Note in the picture how the shoulder typically moves down and backward slightly, if your right shoulder doesn’t move backwards slightly your shoulders will be turning too level. This movement will be created by the two sensations I have suggested to you.

As your right shoulder moves more down and a little back (with less turn) your hips will push more forwards creating a bend to the right (right handed golfer) which is present in ALL the games best players. You will not only start drawing the ball you will hit it higher and further.

To make this ball super effective try hitting shots off of a low tee. The effect of the ball being on a tee will help you to achieve this move faster and more effectively.

Start with shorter swings if you need to in order to achieve the correct motion.

Good luck with your practice.

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The Myth that destroys golf swings!

When all is going wrong on the course or on the range there’s always one person floating around with a nugget of information that’s given with the best intention, however this information comes with serious consequences.

Have you guessed it yet? The advice “to keep your head down” or to keep looking at the ground which is given indiscriminately to help struggling golfers to make contact with the ball. This piece of information is said to be the route of most golfers bad shots but it couldn’t be further from the truth and in fact I have NEVER seen a golfer ‘lifting their head’. Many golfers move their head vertically up and down in a golf swing and still make great contact with the ball. I would go as far as to say it is actually essential to allow your head to move freely and turn towards the target in order to play golf effectively.

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That means that ‘keeping your head down’ cannot be the answer for better golf.

The unfortunate truth is, keeping your head down (staring at the ground for longer) will actually make things a lot worse and rarely helps at all, if it does help there’s a good chance it’s a placebo effect and will not yield long term results.

0So why is keeping your head down so bad? The movement of your neck and head heavily restricts the freedom that your torso and arms have to move. By fixing the head and neck for too long during the follow through you will restrict the bodies movement and in turn encourage the arms to flex heavily, disconnecting them from your body. This flexing and disconnecting will begin pre impact and severely effect the contact and direction. The disconnection and flexing of the arms will create huge inconsistency in the way the club is delivered and make hitting the ball at all a far greater challenge.

This myth must have come from somewhere so why would the head feel like it’s lifting and why may it look that way to the untrained eye? To answer this we need to first understand the factors that’s control where and how the club hits the ground.

steveimpactThere are 2 main factors that control the low point of the swing, here is a simple way to look at it. Imagine that the golf swing is a big wheel, the hub of the wheel is your sternum which everything moves around. The point of the wheel that comes in contact with the road is always the spot directly underneath the hub. So basically speaking the club will enter the ground vertically in line with where ever your sternum is positioned.
However there is one factor that can stop this occurring. A wheel along with a hub also has spokes in order to keep it a circle. The spoke of the golf swing is the leading arm. A bent leading arm will make the club hit the turf earlier than in line with the sternum reaching the lowest point before it should.

A straight leading arm will ensure the symmetry and radius of the circle are kept intact. So by keeping the leading arm straight you will hit the ground inline with the sternum as intended. After the club has hit the ground the club will of course begin its journey upwards and away from the ground with the body and head following.

Now we understand how the club hits the ground in relation to the body we can uncover the myth. The most common fault in golf shown by conclusive research is the weight and body positioned too far back as the club head enters the impact zone. If the weight and the body are too far back the centre of the swing will be behind the ball and the club will reach its lowest point too early. This means that by the time the club reaches the ball it will already be on its way up. During the upward portion of the golf swing as I have mentioned the head will begin to turn and move upwards naturally, this will give the golfer the feeling that they’ve lifted their head too early! The fact is that they haven’t lifted too early they just had their weight too far back.

So if you’ve been told that you’re lifting your head the answer is simple -

Don’t keep your head down!

setup1Instead make sure your set up with more weight on your leading foot say 60-70%, do this by pressing your hips only forwards to favour the leading foot. The second thing you need to do is hit some shots finishing with straight arms and a flat leading wrist (like a punch finish). By working on these pieces you’ll ensure that your working on the right things to make better contact with the ball.

One last thing to mention, ensure you let your head turn with your body during the follow through, under no circumstance keep it down! Try doing some small golf swings keeping your weight forward and finishing with straight arms focusing on turning your head along with your arms to the finish.

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Good luck with your practice and NEVER keep your head down.

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Set your Driving on Fire

FINAL FIRE2The driver is fast becoming one of the most important clubs in the bag with courses getting longer and longer. The myth of drive for show and putt for dough has been banded around for years, but, would it surprise anyone to know that the worlds best ball strikers rank higher and earn more money than the worlds best putters! Golf is fast turning into a power sport with the longest and most consistent ball strikers coming out on top. So really it’s drive for dough, right?

So here are my top tips for driving, use all of these pieces to Set your Driver on Fire!

Shift your weight with your hips onto the leading foot – press your hips laterally forwards until they’re positioned more over the leading foot than in the center. Leave your upper body back in the center of your stance this should create a subtle bend in the torso leaning away from the target with the leading shoulder highest. The body needs to create a bend away from the target at impact and ALL poor ball strikers don’t, so create one in the set up and reap the rewards.

Move your hands in on the way back – the golf swing its self is a circular action that is on an angle in and around your body (because its bent over). The myth of the ‘straight take away’ has played golfers driving for years as which part of a circle is straight?!?! So to drive your best ensure you move your hands and arms more in and around your body, I often tell clients to feel like their hands move into their pocket for the initial stage of the back swing.

Make a big stretch – The golf swing is more than just a twist it’s a stretch too, so to drive your best stretch your torso’s twist as much as you can. This will include stretching and twisting your hips and even allow your rear leg to straighten and your front leg to bend forwards to facilitate the biggest twist you can. The center of the chest should be pointing up to the sky at the top of the swing, this will confirm an ample stretch.

Raise your belt for the through swing – During the down swing and follow through the best players thrust and extend their hips forwards to create a huge amount of club head speed. This means that in basic terms the hips finish in a higher and more forward position than when they originally started. I instruct most of my clients to feel as through their hips finish more tucked underneath their body with their belt buckle finishing feeling high, raised and as forward as possible compared with it’s starting position.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or even drop in to see me to improve your golf

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A NEW approach to lining up!

Lining up confidently seems to be a recurring issue facing golfers on the golf course. Part of this problem is that we don’t practice lining up on the driving range as we normally let the mat do it for us. The other big problem is that many don’t understand how the brain and eyes work the best when trying to aim and align the body. Most golfers I meet with have the correct intentions but then no idea on how to ensure they do what they intend to do. Not physically aligning yourself with your intended target has catastrophic consequences with your swing as it has to adjust and compensate to try and send the ball where up you intended. So we have to find out how to align ourselves the best possible way. It is also worth noting that all of our eyes are different and we all perceive things differently so we will always have a habit and tendency to some extent. The key is to give ourselves the best chance of correct alignment having the smallest margins of error.

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Firstly it’s been proven that the eyes work best by having 3 points of reference for aiming. The first one of course is the actual target, coming into the green this is most likely the flag or from the tee a specific patch of grass on the fairway. The second reference point is one initially in front of the ball a maximum of 6 inch’s away. This point will be a mark on the ground in between the ball and intended actual target.

The third reference point is extremely important and often overlooked, a distant reference point. This reference point is past the intended target and is normally big (like a tree or pillion). Your eyes and brain work the best with these three reference points as it can create a stronger and more accurate image of the task at hand.

Once you’ve created these three reference points it will now all come down to the direction you approach the ball. We as humans have eyes in the front of our heads and not on the side. This means we see best when looking straight in front of us and not from side on. By looking straight in front of ourselves we can see without a warped perspective. So putting this information into a golf sense we should really only approach the ball looking from behind and not from the side like so many people do. That’s why I suggest to golfers to take their practice swings from behind so that they are encouraged to approach the ball from behind and never from the side. This will have a huge impact on your ability to align yourself to the desired target. A better alignment, one that matches more with your intentions, will produce straighter and more consistent golf shots.

Enjoy the ‘new approach’ to lining up.

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Sharpen up your aim to sharpen up your game

The fact is that hills and sloping lies should heavily effect your aim for shots around the green and green side bunkers.

This is due to a phenomenon called face plane tilt. This refers to the fact that the faces loft will be tilted and effect the direction of the ball when ever the club strikes the ball with a non horizontal sole position. Even if the leading edge of the club is aiming at the target the loft will be pointed in a different direction.

loftLie

If the toe of the club is higher (upright) which will happen if the ball is positioned above the feet, the ball will fly left. If the heel of the club is higher (flat) which will happen when the ball is positioned bellow the feet, the ball will fly right. (right handed golfer explanation)

What many golfers don’t realise is that the effects of face plane tilt are most exaggerated by lofted clubs, especially wedges. So when it comes to playing those little shots around the green take time with your aiming when it comes to awkward lies.

Sloping lies

If the ball is above your feet ensure you aim enough to the right even opening up the face a little to get the ball on target. If the ball is bellow your fee ensure you aim enough left even shutting the face a little to get the ball on target. (This is also true for bunkers)

So don’t let the side hills and awkward lies catch you out, understand all the factors when picking your aim.

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Conquer break on the greens

putting-coneThe best way to become more successful with larger breaking putts is to understand the effect that speed has on how much the putt will break (turn).

I would like you to consider that there are basically three ways to hole each putt. Dead weight, which is just enough pace for the ball just to drop in the hole. Normal pace (considered optimum), where if the ball were to miss it would finish 9 inches past the hole.) Finally firm, which would maybe lead to a 2-3ft return putt if the ball were to miss.

The interesting thing to note is that all require a completely different aim! Unless the putt is straight each pace will require a different aim in order to hole the putt successfully. The firm pace will require the narrowest aim (straightest aim) and the dead weight pace will require the widest aim. It is worth noting that the aim for an intermediate or normal pace will fall somewhere in between these two points or boundaries. This phenomenon occurs as the slower the ball is rolling the more the slope and gravity can effect the turn of the ball, this means the faster the balls travels the straighter it will roll.

The exercise -

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Take 10 balls and start by hitting putts at a dead weight pace where the ball just drops in the hole. Mark a tee peg where you find the successful aiming point for the dead weight pace. Take another 10 balls and repeat for normal pace then finally firm pace.

Now you have three tee pegs in the ground for the 3 different paces start mixing up the pace you use when trying to hole the putt. I.e. Try one firm, then one dead weight and then one normal pace.

As you start to take in the results and information you will be growing your experience when it comes to calculating break and aim for sloping putts.

The speed at which you hole the putt will dictate how accurate the putt will have to be in order to drop. The firm putt will only drop if it enters the hole near the centre, lipping out if it hits the edge of the hole (off centre). The dead weight putt will offer the biggest target to aim at as the ball can drop in from the side of the cup. The normal (optimum) pace will drop if the ball enters slightly off centre but won’t drop in from the lip.
Different players prefer different paces when it comes to holing putts, you need to choose and stick to a pace that suits you and your game, you will find that pace will severely effect how much the ball will turn on the greens. So now you can see that the same putt can have multiple successful aiming points don’t be tempted to watch too closely at you playing partners. Build your own experience of aiming and allowing for slope with your chosen pace and learn how to conquer the slopes!

Enjoy the tip and your practice

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Cure a Slice for Good!

The slice in golf (uncontrollable right curve) is like a plague and many golfers struggle to ever get rid of it once it sets in. The problem is that generally the swing and movements that produce a slice are tuned to the way the club moves and attacks the ball during the down swing. Getting out of these moves is very difficult because it requires you to change not only the movement but the style in which you use the club through impact.

Through my years of research there is one defining movement that occurs in every successful golf swing. I would consider it to be almost the anti-slice (anti right curve) move, the cure. Changing this one piece can cause a chain reaction affecting many body movements in a positive way.

It simply comes down to learning how to raise the handle or ‘butt’ of the golf club through impact.

When I have previously asked the question where to you thing the end of the grip is at its lowest point during the swing the answer I get is “it’s lowest at impact isn’t it?” But unfortunately that isn’t the case at all. The end of the grip or handle is at it’s lowest point as the shaft is parallel to the floor halfway through the down swing.

From there the grip or handle will begin to rise through impact. This is the defining move that not only adds power but also creates draw or at the least neutral results.

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Typically almost every case I see where golfers can’t stop hitting it with a slice the handle of the club is lowering through impact. The act of lowering the grip or handle through impact actually sends the swings direction inward across the ball creating the right curve. This also typically sends the weight back onto the trailing foot. The finish will be extremely un-athletic as your body will have more than likely finished bent over from the waist.

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If you look at the opposite i.e. raising the grip or handle excessively, the swings direction will be shifted outward (the opposite direction across the ball) which produces draw or hook spin (left curve). This would also typically allow and encourage the weight to finish forwards on the leading foot with the hips also pushed forwards leading the body. This style of finishing position.

So how do we raise the handle through the ball?

Simply start off hitting some chip shots on the driving range with what ever club you desire. It would be worth adjusting the set up so that more weight starts on the leading foot. Do this by shifting or “bumping your hips forwards so they start ahead of your upper torso (you should feel weight favors the leading foot 60/40 ish) with a shorter swing it will allow your body to work as it should with a full action. The only focus you need have during the swing is on the finishing position of your hands and grip.

The end of the grip should finish pointing up, to achieve this in turn you feel as though your leading wrist is ‘bowing’. These will also having the effect of forcing your hips to finish more pushed forwards and stretched. Practice hitting little shots like this at first, the ball should fly off a little lower and with a little left curve. Gradually build you swing longer until you can achieve this with a full length action.

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Good luck curing your slice don’t hesitate to message me with any questions.

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Is a straight spine the best posture?

head_down_1_w640A myth that has plagued golf instruction for years is that of having a straight spinal posture in the set up. If I told you it was limiting your swings movements, consistency and potential would it surprise you?

A ‘straight’ spine not only reduces your ability to turn and twist it also reduces the connection between your body and arms. This is because straightening you spine (retracting your shoulder blades) pulls your arms back and off your torso.

Firstly during your back swing the spine stretches (extending or straightening in other terms) to produce power. It then returns to flex during the downswing acting as a huge lever. If the spine starts straight and stretched it will have no where to go in the back swing reducing power.

The key is to relax and round your upper back and shoulders during the set up. This will not only allow you to stretch fully during the back swing but it also allows your arms to sit more on your body increasing body connection and consistency. At the same time let your neck relax and hand down more so that you are looking at the ball out of the center of your eyes.

Also let your pelvis tuck under your body a little not arching your lower back this is another common set up trait I see that limits the pelvic twist and therefore power in the golf swing.

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Be careful however It is would noting the body should still be bent over to around 40 degrees from the waist it’s more to the rigidity of posture I’m referring to.

You’ll be surprised about the results

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