The Local Knowlege

Instruction

You Tried It: Split your grip to fix your slice

On Wednesdays at the Instruction Blog, we often turn to our readers for the best tips they ever received. Please submit your favorite tip to Editors@GolfDigest.com. This week we hear from Matt Hahn on fixing the slice:

"Many people know what it's like to struggle with a slice. I tried tips such as swinging out toward the side you fear and working on grooving an in-to-out swing path, without much success. I finally found a tip that worked, from a long-time member of my home course. He told me that unless I roll my wrists over through impact, none of the other tips would work and I would not be able to get rid of my slice.

"He had me separate my hands on my driver grip by lowering my bottom hand.

"This grip causes the wrists to roll over better, helping square the club through impact. I practiced with this grip to ingrain the feeling into my swing and found it was what I needed for all of those other slice tips to work."

scan395.gifEditor's note: Thanks for the tip, Matt. A variation that is not so drastic is to adopt a 10-finger grip. The left thumb is still positioned on the top of the shaft to stabilize the club at the top of the swing, but having all the fingers of the right hand on the grip increases your hand action, allowing you to rotate the clubface into a square or slightly closed position at impact, This will help to  eliminate your slice and even produce a slight draw. I would recommend you use the split grip as a practice drill on the range, alternating with the 10-finger grip, then use the 10-finger grip on the course. Some great players on the professional level have used a 10-finger grip, including the late ABC golf commentator and PGA Champion Bob Rosburg (above). Give it a try.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman

Photo by Stephen Szurlej/Golf Digest

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Instruction

You Tried It: Think 1-2-3 for consistent chips

On Wednesdays at the Instruction Blog, we often turn to our readers for the best tips they ever received. Please submit your favorite tip to Editors@GolfDigest.com. This week we hear from Scott Morgan on better chipping:

"I'm fairly average around the greens, but a golf buddy of mine always struggled. He could never stay in rhythm from his practice swings to the real shot and frequently either skulled the shot across the green or flubbed it three feet with an abbreviated, jabby stroke.

"After a long summer watching these mis-hits, I finally offered some unsolicited advice: Slowly count to yourself on both the practice swing and the actual chip. Say 1-2-3 in your head, starting the swing on 1 and making contact on 3. He found better rhythm, better contact, and better results. And he was rather annoyed I hadn't said something sooner."

Thanks for the tip, Scott. So many times, good rhythm back and through will make up for poor technique, not only in the short game but also in the full swing. A wise pro once told me: "No matter how great your mechanics are, you'll still hit bad shots occassionally if you don't have good tempo. But smooth tempo can often take care of faults in your swing."

A number of great players had swing flaws, but managed to have incredible careers because they swung the club rhythmically. In fact, the smooth tempo masked their flaws, and they even had reputations for having great swings. Some prominent players who come to mind include Sam Snead (backswing was inside his downswing); Jerry Pate (closed clubface going back and at the top); Payne Stewart (club well past parallel at the top); Nancy Lopez (manipulative wrist cock and closed clubface on the takeaway); Julius Boros (significant re-routing of the club--outside going back, inside coming down); Larry Nelson (club pointing well across the line at the top). All of these players had wonderful tempo and won major championships.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman 

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Instruction

You Tried It: How a tension-free swing solves lots of problems

On Wednesdays at the Instruction Blog, we often turn to our readers for the best tips they ever received. Please submit your favorite tip to Editors@GolfDigest.com. This week we hear from Alastair Plowman, who emailed us the following, all the way from The Grange Golf Club in Auckland, New Zealand:

"For decades I have battled getting stuck on the back foot and pulling my shoulders across the ball and slicing, like tens of thousands of golfers, I guess. Many instructors teach starting the downswing with a lower-body movement, or a bump. I could not get this action going. I have asked many pros for a thought to initiate this action.

"I read somewhere that you should hold the club as if you had a baby bird in your hands. I went to the driving range and took a pitching wedge and just made a few loose swings. It felt like a rubber band, to be frank, and it felt far from a structured swing. I hit a few balls without thinking anything, and then tried a bump action. It felt fluid for the first time. I tried several swings without a ball and thought I was onto something.

"A month later I am using this swing thought--very soft hands with a full turn, bump and swing. The key revelation I think is this: A setup with arm or hand tension spreads to the chest and shoulders, and when you get to the top of the swing the tension prevents a bump action from happening.

"I usually play to a 10-11 range, but last week I hit every green, for the first time ever. It has made me more accurate by far, and is keeping me more in play. I certainly feel I have a major breakthrough routine to work on and grow with."

Editor's note: I have written most of Jim Flick's articles in Golf Digest through the years, and he drums me with the exact same principles that Mr. Plowman speaks of: Tension ruins the natural swinging and releasing of the club through impact and robs you of clubhead speed. Moreover, Flick says, tension usually starts in the hands and arms and then extends into the shoulders. I'll give you a sneak preview into the upcoming March issue of the magazine, in which Flick asks if swinging the club has become obsolete. From that article, here's a drill Flick provides to illustrate his point about tension:

Take an alignment rod (or one of those sticks they sell in the hardware store to mark your driveway before the snowplow comes) and place it firmly under your left armpit. Get into your normal address position, and turn back as if you were making a backswing. Now turn through as fast as you can. Not much speed there. Next, hold the rod with your normal grip and whip it through using your hands and arms. Not only will you see the difference, you'll hear it. And the more relaxed you keep your hands and arms, the faster you can swing the rod. The same is true for your golf club. Tension destroys speed.


Feb_Flick.gifRegarding the bump to initiate the downswing, Flick also contends that if you are tension-free in your shoulders, it's much easier to start the downswing in the proper order to support the swinging of the club: Without a ball or club, get into your setup and make practice swings, as Flick is demonstrating here. Focus on rolling your ankles toward your target so your downswing starts with your left foot, knee, thigh and hip, in that order. 

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman   




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Instruction

You Tried It: Let the clubhead lag

On Wednesdays at the Instruction Blog, we often turn to our readers for the best tips they ever received. Please submit your favorite tip to Editors@GolfDigest.com. This week we hear from Rick Johnson, who emailed us the following:

"When beginning the backswing with your irons, establish a good rhythm by letting the clubhead lag behind your hands just a little bit."

Thank you, Rick. This is a simple but terrific piece of advice, and something a number of great players have done, including Ben Hogan and Payne Stewart. By letting the clubhead lag behind your hands on the takeaway, you create not only a sensation of good rhythm and timing, but the lag going back will be replicated into more lag coming down.

davenport.gifBack in 1990 I ghostwrote an article on this subject for Golf Digest with the teacher Scott Davenport, who is now the head professional at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C. Scott (pictured here) said to use an object such as a tee marker to provide resistance to the clubhead as you take the club back.

He also came up with the image of cracking a whip to really emphasize the feeling of letting the clubhead lag on the backswing, and then again on the downswing.

If you think of how the wrist must stay relaxed and flexible as you slowly pull the handle of the whip back with the chord lagging, then reverse the lag to crack the whip, you will understand how you can make a similar move to create extra downswing lag in your golf swing.

It requires you to keep your wrists relaxed going back and through, so they lead the clubhead on the backswing and then again on the through swing. If you want to create more clubhead speed, give it a try.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman

Photo by Stephen Szurlej/Golf Digest


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Instruction

You Tried It: Strengthen core muscles for longer, straighter shots

On the Instruction Blog we're open to all ideas. And we don't care where they're from as long as they work. A few weeks ago we solicited from you, our valued readers, the best tips you ever received. Now each week I am posting one of these tips and will explain why it's effective. Please submit your favorite tip by email to Editors@GolfDigest.com.

This week we hear from reader Charles Piette, who shares a tip for longer, straighter drives:

"At address, suck in your belly in a way that you feel your abdomen getting more tense, but you're still able to breathe. That will stimulate the core muscles and create a solid base of support for your body to swing around.

"To this muscle contraction, add a smooth and relaxed takeaway, concentrating only on feeling tension in the mid-abdominal section, leaving the rest of your body tension-free. Make sure you complete a full backswing. By still keeping the same tension level, now pull the trigger and let it rip.

"This will allow you to hit more consistent shots with added distance and accuracy. This also serves as a great way to accelerate through the ball."

JasonDay_UL001.jpgThank you, Charles. When you look at many of the modern tour players today, you'll notice that their abdomens are firm and solid at address, usually with a straight lower back--neither curved nor inverted. (See photo of Jason Day, from the swing sequence analysis that appears in the November issue of Golf Digest, with Bubba Watson on the cover.)

Also, it is easier to suck in your belly and keep it tense throughout your swing if you core muscles are strong. See Ron Kaspriske's Fitness Friday video here for easy ways to strengthen your core. Good luck with your game
.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman

Photo by J.D. Cuban 



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Instruction

You Tried It: Stronger grip, better path

On the Instruction Blog we're open to all ideas. And we don't care where they're from as long as they work. A few weeks ago we solicited from you, our valued readers, the best tips you ever received. Now each week I'm posting one of these tips and will explain why it's effective and who would most benefit from it. Please submit your favorite tip by email to Editors@GolfDigest.com.

One thing I learned from our solicitation is that a number of teaching pros follow the Instruction Blog. This week we hear from 29-year-old teaching professional A.J. Spicer, whose father was a 40-year veteran golf instructor. A.J. teaches at White Beeches Golf & Country Club, in Haworth, N.J.

azinger_300.jpg
Left: Paul Azinger is a prime example of a player who made a strong grip work for him. Photo by Getty Images.


Here's A.J.: If there is any swing tip or advice that I would love to share with you and all of your readers, it would be twofold. First, strengthen your grip by turning your hands to the right on the club (your left hand will feel more on top of the club, and your right hand will feel more underneath). Second, shallow out or flatten your downswing.

Most golfers tend to have a weak grip and are way too steep into the ball. They either take the club back too flat, then come down steep (chopping-wood motion) or they take the club back steep and swing down steep. The visual I like to use is a large hula hoop lying at an angle, with the base at the ball and the top at your chest. Just try to swing the club with your hands and arms tracing the imaginary plane. So in summary, correct your grip, then your swing plane, and you'll be on your way to great golf.

Thanks, A.J. What I like most about this tip is the two pieces of advice work so well together (strong grip, flatter plane). If you strengthen your grip, over time you'll stop coming over the top because you'll get tired of hitting pulls or pull hooks. Paul Azinger, who has as strong a grip as any top-level player, once told me it was one of the reasons he rarely came over the top. If he did, he would hit the ball dead left. His club was always beautifully set on a slightly flatter downswing plane.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman




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Instruction

You Tried It: A slicer's quick fix

On the Instruction Blog we're open to all ideas. And we don't care where they're from as long as they work. A few weeks ago we solicited from you, our valued readers, the best tips you ever received. Now each week I am posting one of these tips and will explain why it's effective and who would most benefit from it. Please submit your favorite tip by email to Editors@GolfDigest.com.

This week we hear from Douglas D'Avignon, who writes to us from Vermont. Here's how he fixed his slice:

instruction_blog_slice_1026.jpgAs someone who speaks from experience, it is very difficult to rid yourself of a slice. I suffered from the slice for several years before I decided to do something about it. If your slice is caused mainly by an out-to-in swing path, this tip is for you. One thing I did was turn my rear foot out so it was perpendicular to my front foot. This will cause your swing path to become more in-to-out, far more desirable. If you use this tip for, say, two to four weeks on any shot that you usually slice, when you go back to your normal foot placement, your swing will have adjusted so you'll now have a well-shaped path. The movement will have had time to become muscle memory and will be like second nature to you.

(Related: Above, Matt Killen demonstrated a similar tip in the September, 2010 issue of Golf Digest)

Editor's note: This is a neat tip, and one that I had not heard before--turning your back foot so radically out that it is perpendicular to your front foot. That really will encourage a fuller hip turn so your arms and club will swing more around your body. From there you can deliver the club on an inside path to the ball.  ... Read
Instruction

You Tried It: Turn knuckles down at impact

Great tips in golf come from a variety of sources--usually teaching professionals and tour pros. But they also can come from your buddies. You never know when something might click for your game. That's why on the Instruction Blog we're open to all ideas. And we don't care where they're from as long as they work.

A couple of weeks ago we solicited from you, our valued readers, the best tips you ever received, whether from a book, a magazine, a video or DVD, your club pro, or your grandmother. Every week I will post one of these tips and will explain why it's effective and who would most benefit from it. You can submit your favorite tip by email to Editors@GolfDigest.com.

This week's tip is from Cody Pinkston, Media and PR Director at Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he also coaches the men's and women's golf teams:

As much as I know about the swing and as well as I can play, I was never a great iron player. I just didn't really trap it like I needed to until a fellow coach, PGA Professional David Andrews, watched me hit a few on the range and said: "Get your knuckles down at impact."

He demonstrated with his left hand, exaggeratedly. It took me a few swings to trust it, but it was off to the races after that. I felt my irons compressing the ball like they never had. I now hit 12 to 15 greens per round and have lots of makable birdie putts. Even the driver is much more solid.


Webb_simpson_knuckles_470.jpg
A similar tip from Jim McLean, demonstrated here by Webb Simpson, was selected as one of Golf Digest's all-time best tips in 2010.

Thanks, Cody. The reason this thought works so well is because it gives you an easy way to feel your left wrist staying flat or slightly bowed, which delofts the club at impact. This reminds me how the noted teacher Jim Flick told me to do something similar a few years ago. I had lost the zip on my iron shots. To ingrain this move, he had me hit balls on the range from bare lies or even old divots. Doing that forces you to turn your knuckles down--otherwise you'll hit the ball fat. And Cody's right: You really will start compressing the ball for longer iron shots with more control.

-- Roger Schiffman, Managing Editor
 Follow me on Twitter: @RogerSchiffman


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July 28, 2014

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