Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Do your shots start right then hook left, often hitting the turf behind the ball or topping the ball?

I earlier discussed that straight, solidly struck shots are the result of three occurrences at impact:

• The club head has moved from the inside to parallel to the target line
• The club face is square to the online path of the club head
• The club head is at the bottom of its arc

These occur when a player’s timing is correct. The simplest definition of timing is the coordination of leg and hip movement with the swinging of the arms. A player’s timing can be off in two extremes. First, the legs and hips can turn before the arms swing down. This is generally the case with players who slice the ball. Second, the hands and arms are too fast for the leg and hip action. If your shots fit the above topic then you fall in this extreme. You are casting the club with your hands and wrists at the start of your downswing.

Because your hands and arms are too fast the club reaches the bottom of its upward and downward arc too soon – before it gets to the ball. This is why you take divots behind the ball or the club has begun its upward arc before impact resulting in topped shots. The ball usually starts right because the club is moving in that direction. It hasn’t returned to the on line portion of the path because the hips haven’t turned and cleared. The ball curves left because the hands and arms being too quick have closed the club face at impact.

The main cause of casting the club is from the hands separating at the top of the swing. The left thumb and right palm separate at the top then reconnect to start the downswing. This causes the wrists to uncock too early in the downswing. To correct this place a small coin or piece of string between your left thumb and right palm and hold it in place during the swing. This will stop the separation of your hands and the resulting casting of the club.

This adjustment along with the clearing of the hips will allow the club head to be along the target line and at the bottom of its arc when impacting the ball. You'll soon be hitting straight and solid shots once again.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pushed Shots – Solid impact but ball flies right of target with little or no curve

Generally players who currently push the ball in the past tended to hook their shots, but have since learned to square their clubface by changing their grip. Their shots now fly right because the club is moving in that direction at impact.

As I’ve mentioned before the correct swing path arcs inside on the backswing then returns from the inside to along the target path then back to the inside on the follow through portion. Because of his previous hooking tendencies the player still aims his club head and aligns his body right of the target. This also causes him to play the ball too far back or to the right in his stance. His shots now go right of the target because the club head makes contact with the ball too early when the club head is still moving to the right of the target path.

These players often feel as well that their left side is in the way at impact and on the follow through. Because their shoulders are aligned right of the target they will tend to rock or lift up the right shoulder rather than turn it during the backswing. The reaction is for the hips to tilt or lift up during the forward swing rather that turn and clear to the left allowing room for the arms to square the club head to the target line.

To correct this play the ball further forward or to the left in your stance. This gives the club head more time to return to the target path. It also aligns your shoulders more to the left which encourages the right shoulder to turn rather than lift during the backswing. This results in the hips turning rather than tilting during the forward swing.

Experiment until you find the correct ball position and related shoulder alignment that results in your shots starting on target.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You're making solid contact but the ball is going left of the target.

Remember that because at address we stand to the side of the ball our clubhead path does not travel on a straight line. It arcs to the inside during the backswing then returns from the inside to the target line during the downswing, and arcs back to the inside on the follow through. Pulled shots occur when the ball is positioned too far forward or to the left in the player's stance. With the ball too far forward the clubhead impacts the ball after the club has already begun moving back to the inside along the follow through path of the arc.
Playing the ball too far forward also positions the player's shoulders too far to the left at address. In an attempt to get the club to the inside on the backswing the player will overturn his shoulders to the right causing him to overturn them on the downswing further exacerbating the outside-in clubhead path at impact.
To correct this play the ball farther back or to the right in your stance. This will align your shoulders correctly eliminating the need for them to overturn during the backswing and the "out and over" shoulder heave in the forward swing. This also allows you to contact the ball sooner in the downswing before the clubhead has had a chance to return back to the inside. I recommend hitting shots with various ball positions and related shoulder alignments until you determine the one that enables your shots to start on target.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Striking shots on the toe of the club

Ask most amateurs why they are hitting the ball off the toe end of the club and they invariably answer by saying they are standing too far from the ball. Although this can be a cause it rarely is.
There are basically two very different reasons for hitting the ball off the toe end of the club. By observing which direction the ball curves we can determine not only the cause, but also which corrective measure needs to be taken.
If your shots curve to the left your clubface is closed (facing to the left of its path)at impact. In this position the toe end of the club leads the heel into the ball resulting in contact with the toe of the club. To correct the closing of the clubface weaken your grip by turning your hands a little further to the left.
If your shots curve to the right then your swing is too upright. A too upright swing doesn't position the club far enough behind you at the top thus the club doesn't move outward enough on the downswing. This results in only the toe portion of the club reaching the target line and the ball. Correct this by adjusting your address position so that you can swing on a less upright plane. Increase your knee flex slightly and decrease the amount you tilt your spine forward. This improved posture will allow the club to swing up and more to the inside so that it stops above your right shoulder rather than above your head. The club will now move more outward coming down allowing the center of club face to reach the target line and the ball.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Topped shots result from a too steep swing.

If you ask most players why they top the ball they will answer "Because my head is coming up". I will agree that lifting the head as well as the body can cause the ball to be topped, but this is not the majority cause. In fact I could hold the head of many poor players rock steady and they would still manage to top the ball. This is because the problem is not with their head moving, but rather because of their swing path.

To make solid contact with the ball the clubhead must be square and move through the impact area on a fairly shallow arc. Remember that because we stand to the side of ball the clubhead moves from inside the target line to straight along it then to the inside again. If however the clubhead moves from outside the target line across the ball the swing arc becomes much steeper. That is why chronic slicers generally have problems topping the ball. The more the club swings from out to in across the target line the steeper the angle of attack eventually to the point where the club can only contact the top half of the ball.

Therefore to stop topping the ball the player must correct his steep outside-to-in swing path. This is done by correcting his address and ball positon so that he can deliver the club to the back of the ball from behind and inside it, rather than from across and on top of it

The second cause that often affects better players as well poor players stems from the deliberate attempt to delay the uncocking of the wrists in the downswing. To correct this simply swing the clubhead down and through the ball freely thus creating the same radius of the left arm and club at impact that was established at address.