1. Keep my swing connected so I maintain an inside-to-inside path for distance and accuracy. (From PGA Champion Keegan Bradley's headcover drill--see the previous Weekend Tip.)
2. Stick my finish on short putts so I make every four-footer. (From Brian Gay, who made 98.24 percent of his putts under five feet in 2011.)
3. Finish with the clubhead low on my chips and short pitches, so I make solid contact and never scoop again. (From Luke Donald, who became the No. 1 ranked player in the world and led both the PGA Tour and the European Tour money list in 2011.)
4. Kiss my left shoulder at the top of my driver swing, which guarantees a full turn and serious clubhead speed through the ball. (From Bubba Watson, who hit a drive 415 yards and averaged 314.1 yards in 2011.)
5. Play the ball farther back and tee it lower when I need control. This will keep me centered over the ball at the top for accuracy off the tee, like when there's out of bounds right and water left. (From Rickie Fowler, who thinks 2012 will be his "Go Time.")
See you next year!
Here's Ron: If you're a gym rat, then you probably dread January and February when your training center is overrun with newbies trying to keep to their New Year's resolution fitness commitment. Of course, by spring, many of those people begin to vanish and the gym returns to normal. A recent poll showed that less than 35 percent of the people who make fitness or weight-loss oriented resolutions actually reach their goals.
It would be easy to say those people who gave up are lazy and never truly intended to stick with the plan. But I don't think that's always the case. More often than not, the reason they give up, I believe, is they make unrealistic goals, and then get frustrated. If you ever watch the New York or Boston Marathon on TV, you probably have seen a few runners dash out to a big lead early in the race. They are running at a frantic pace, one that they will never be able to maintain for 26.2 miles. Sure enough, sometime in the middle of the race, they fade and are passed by runners who maintained a steady and realistic pace. The tortoise can beat the hare.
So my advice for you is that if you're contemplating a workout/weight-loss plan for 2012, make your goals "realistic." Don't pledge to workout for an hour six days a week. Pledge to workout for 20-30 minutes three or four days a week. Don't pledge to stop eating french fries forever (scientists say that's impossible in our culture). Instead, limit your fast-food stops to only a couple of times a month. If you easily fulfill your resolution, then you can make a new, harder goal.
This past year, I worked out 312 times (26 a month, six times a week). But to reach that level, I started about seven years ago with a goal of working out three times a week. Then it became every other day. Then it became four times a week and so on. If you're ready to workout, see if you get into one of my clubs: Club 52 (one workout a week); Club 104 (two); Club 156; Club 208; Club 260; or Club 312. I don't have a Club 365 because I don't believe anyone should workout every day. The body needs rest. Keep me posted on your progress in 2012, and I'll do the same.
To help you reach your goal, I asked my Twitter followers to come up with the ultimate workout playlist. The response was pretty impressive. Studies have shown that the duration of your workout and level of intensity dramatically increases if you listen to music. So in that spirit, I'm giving you two playlists. The first is the "best of" from my Twitter followers. I tried to make it as diverse as my followers, so understand that each song isn't for everyone. The second is my personal picks. Enjoy and remember by motto: "Keep moving."
ULTIMATE WORKOUT PLAYLIST (Twitter followers)
L'Estasi Dell Oro (remix), by Ennio Morricone (@amolyajnik)
Teeth, by Lady Gaga (@laurenwald)
Connected, by Stereo MC's (@alliparker1)
Wolf Like Me, by TV on the Radio (@ronster221)
Girlfriend is Better by Talking Heads (@Ben_Shear)
Higher Ground, by Red Hot Chili Peppers (@marionshoward)
Cochise, by Audioslave (@b_upton)
Lovething, by ZZ Top (@silverstargolf)
Good Feeling, by Flo Rida (@NinaJBosse)
Bring the Noise, by Public Enemy vs. Benny Benassi (remix) (@s_hennessey)
RON'S ULTIMATE WORKOUT (I cheated and picked 15)
The Hand that Feeds, by Nine Inch Nails
Thunderstruck, by AC/DC
I Like the Way, by Bodyrockers
Feelin Hypnotized, by DJ Colette
mOBSCENE, by Marilyn Manson
The Way I Are, by Timbaland
The One Thing, by INXS
I Will Follow, by U2
She Sells Sanctuary, by The Cult
You've Got Another Thing Comin', by Judas Priest
The One, by Sharam
Discipline, by Nine Inch Nails
Magnificent, by U2 (Dave Aude' Club Remix)
Shot Down in Flames, by AC/DC
Sex Type Thing, by Stone Temple Pilots
As part of a larger article on iron play, Bradley demonstrates a drill that he learned from his teacher, Jim McLean. This drill helps his swing path. It's something you can do as well, without a ball, in your backyard, throughout the winter.
Jim and I have spent a lot of time working on my swing path, which used to be so far inside on the backswing that I had to loop it to the outside coming down. Now I'm swinging the club back and down on a path that stays inside my target line everywhere but at impact (when it's directly on the line).
To ingrain an inside-to-inside swing path, which is ideal for power and control, Jim has me stuff a headcover under my left armpit and try to keep it there as long as I can during the swing (left). It'll drop eventually but not until well after impact.
In addition to improving your path, this drill gives you a great feeling of unity with your club, hands, arms and body as you swing. Everything must move in sync, or the headcover drops.
Thank you, Keegan. And have a great holiday, everyone.
Twitter @Roger Schiffman
"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.
Kevin Hinton: Ian Poulter has been one of the most consistent players in the world over the past few seasons. Comparing these videos from late 2008 and from 2011, it is difficult to see major differences in Poulter's technique.
Poulter's swing in 2008...
Poulter's swing in 2011...
The consistency of his swing has led to consistent performance. Poulter will end 2011 as the 16th-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings. In 2010 he finished 11th, and in 2009 he finished 12th. Much of this is due to his reliable ball-striking. He perennially ranks high in the statistical category of Greens in Regulation on the European Tour. In 2011 Poulter ranked 11th, in 2010 first, and in 2009 sixth.
Ian does many things technically sound in his swing, but one thing that stands out to me is the upbeat tempo of his swing. There have been many great ball-strikers with a quickish, fast-paced look to their swings. Nick Price is the first player that comes to mind. Tom Watson is another. It also reminds me of Hogan.
As a teacher, I often hear my students say that their swings get too "fast," but in reality, as a teacher I speed up more backswings than I slow down. Tour players typically do not have slow backswings. The average swing on tour takes about one second from the beginning of the swing until the point of impact (typically around .75 seconds in the backswing and .25 seconds
Keys to longer drives (August, 2011)
Go wider with your right foot. When you really want to pound a tee shot, widen your right foot out a few more inches, keeping your left foot and the ball where they are. That'll drop your head farther behind the ball and tilt your spine away from the target. You'll feel a little heavier on your right foot; that's perfect. In effect, this setup pre-loads your weight shift to your right side.
Then, make a more deliberate backswing. Notice I didn't say slow: I don't like a slow start because then you have to kick it into a higher gear. What you want is a smooth takeaway that allows you to finish your windup before you start down.
Finally, stay fast to the finish. As you shift to your left foot, the club will drop to the inside, so you can extend your arms into impact. Keep your speed up. Feel as if you're accelerating the clubhead all the way to the finish.
For better chipping, check your buttons (June 2011)
Set your shirt buttons ahead of the ball, and keep them there. If you want to improve your chipping, you need to make solid contact by striking down on the ball. Your body position can help. Take a narrow stance, position the ball slightly back, and lean toward the target so your shirt buttons are ahead of the ball.
When you swing, make sure those buttons stay ahead of the ball. This will promote a slightly
Here's Ron: Play golf long enough and you're going to get hurt. That's the sobering reality of playing a sport that the body isn't designed to play. The twisting and torquing of the body and the repetitive impact of hitting the ground take their toll on your joints, muscles and tendons.
So what do you do when you suffer from joint inflammation, small muscle tears and/or tendon strains? Your first options for a speedy recovery are always going to be rest, ice and heat.
The first part is easy--rest. It's like the old Marx Brothers joke about the guy who tells his doctor that it hurts when he "does this." And the doc says, "Then stop doing that." It's actually good advice. Trying to "play hurt" as they do in the NFL will likely make an easily correctable problem turn into a much bigger issue. So shut it down for a while.
The second part of the equation is a little trickier. Heat and ice are both proven methods to help alleviate pain and heal faster, but most people don't know which one to use and when. In January's Golf Digest, I delve into this topic. To find out when and how to use ice and heat, click on the link here.
"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.
Regarding 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.
Kevin Hinton: While Alvaro Quiros did lead the European Tour in driving distance in 2011, as he has done four out of the last five seasons, he is a lot more than a long-ball hitter. The six-time winner on the European Tour has a simple, repeatable swing that creates enormous power with seemingly little effort. Let's take a closer look at the swing of Spain's next superstar.
There are a few notable characteristics in Alvaro's swing that stand out to me. The first is the amount of clubhead speed he creates with a relatively short, compact swing. It certainly helps to be 6-foot-3 and super athletic, but in addition to his natural abilities, Quiros has a very sound golf swing. Alvaro makes a huge shoulder turn over a very braced lower body. This allows him to create power without having to make a long swing. Bubba Watson and John Daly are in the oposite camp, creating their power with much fuller swings. While being flexible definitely makes Quiros' move easier, keeping a stable lower body in the backswing is a good thing for most people to think of, and can also add to consistency in contact. Of course, all players still need to allow their hips to turn, just try to avoid excessive movement.
The second thing I really like about Alvaro's swing is how the shaft works as he transitions into his downswing. When viewed from down the target line, you can see a distinctive "shallowing" of the shaft as he starts down, a little similar to the downswing of his countryman Sergio Garcia. For most golfers, the benefit of this move is that it puts the club on an inside track to the ball. Many amateurs tend to make the opposite move, where the shaft steepens in the first part of the
Do you need help?
If you play poorly one day, forget it. If you play poorly the next time out, review your fundamentals of grip, stance, aim and ball position. Most mistakes are made before the club is swung. If you play poorly for a third time in a row, go see your professional.
Powder the ball
Many average golfers are not sure which part of the clubface is striking the ball--whether it's with the putter, an iron or a driver. It's very simple to find out. Take a can of talcum powder with you to the range or to the putting green. Powder the ball. Hit it. Look at the clubface. You'll know immediately.
Chip of pitch?
Always chip the ball if:
1. The lie is poor.
2. The green is hard.
3. You have a downhill lie.
4. The wind influences the shot.
5. You are under stress.
1. The lie is good.
2. You have an uphill lie.
3. The green is very soft.
4. There is an obstacle in the way.
A practice rule
Never practice your full swing when the wind is blowing at your back. If you're right-handed, this means the wind is left to right. The more you practice with the wind blowing at your back, the more you will be inclined to swing across the ball and hit from the top. Ben Hogan was one