By Matthew Rudy
Jason Birnbaum is a two-time honoree on Golf Digest's list of America's Best Young Teachers, and he still has the better part of a decade before he gets too old for the prestigious under-40 list. His elite-level junior golf camps attract some of the finest players in the Northeast every summer, and he's worked with a host of PGA and Champions Tour players. He took time out of his prep for the 2014 camp -- which opens July 7 -- to critique a handful of swings submitted by readers via Instagram and Twitter with the #HelpMeGolfDigest hashtag.
The first swing comes from reader @coreyb6008, who needs to adjust his ball position so that he isn't standing quite so close -- a fix that will solve a chain reaction of swing faults.
"By setting up a bit too close to the ball with the club on an upright angle, you swing the club off plane early and have to compensate for that all the way through," says Birnbaum, who is based at Alpine Country Club in Demarest, N.J. "The good news is that a lot of this can be fixed by changing your setup. Give yourself some space at address and improve your body angles by bending your knees and relaxing your shoulders. You'll feel your arms in a lower position at the top of the backswing, and a shorter, tighter swing will help you square up that clubface."
Reader @danielkenneth1 pays close attention to his mechanics and swing. He just needs to add a little turn to supercharge his longer clubs.
"I love this meticulous setup routine to make sure you're in the correct position at address," Birnbaum says. "I really like the overall simplicity of your swing, too. It just looks a bit incomplete to me at the top of the backswing. That's OK for middle or short irons, but not ideal for the longer clubs. If you get a little more wind-up to the top, your upper body will be more centered instead of leaning toward the target. Your timing and swing sequencing will be easier to repeat."
The last swing comes from reader @mikeymike0210, who added some cool slow-motion effects on video he must have shot through a lens with a greasy fingerprint on it. His task is to individually tackle a few different swing flaws.
"You have a couple of important things to fix, but it's crucial to do them one at a time, not all at once," Birnbaum says. "The clubface is job one. Turn your right hand so it's in a weaker position more on top of the club, which will feel terrible at first. But stick with it until you're hitting some better shots. From there, try swinging the club so that your arms are more across your chest at the top of the backswing. You'll be addressing your two core issues -- clubface and swing plane -- and you should see immediate results."
Submit your swings now via Instagram or Twitter with the #HelpMeGolfDigest hashtag and you could see your yourself in this space in a future edition.