Luis Gonzalez is a 12 handicap looking to drop his score into the low 80s by the beginning of this summer. To do this he is hoping that we can help him with two main problems: consistency and power.
After analyzing his swing I have identified two solutions – one relatively quick and easy and the other difficult and frustrating – that should provide him with an accurate jolt of power.
Read on to see Luis’ swing and the fixes I’ve outlined for him.
Luis Gonzalez’s swing can be seen here as a QuickTime movie. This shows two angles, at both full speed and quarter speed, both with the driver.
If you’d like to play along, look at the video and formulate your “fixes” before reading further.
When I watch Luis’s swing, I – like many of you – could probably pick out ten or fifteen different items that I would suggest changing to help him become a better golfer. My job, however, is not to give a laundry list of changes but to find a root change that may knock off several of these other problems.
In my mind, the length of Luis’s swing is not only the most obvious problem but the problem that could be affecting many other parts of his game. So analysis over: lengthen the swing.
The problem is that this type of an oversimplification of his swing that could eventually lead to more problems. To correctly lengthen his swing, create more power, and create more consistency I am suggesting that Luis both widen his stance and develop a power pivot.
Ball Position and Stance Width
When I am analyzing a swing with a face on camera angle, the first two things that I check every single time are 1) ball position and 2) stance width. Even though there is a huge debate about both ball position and stance width for iron swings, there is very little debate about either of these topics with the driver.
Most golfers believe – with plenty of physics to support them – that the ball should be played directly off of the instep of your left foot and the instep of your right foot just barely outside of your shoulders with your driver. More simply stated, your stance is shoulder width apart. Let’s start by looking at Tiger’s driver set up.
As you can see, I’ve drawn three lines – lines 1, 2, and M – for the driver setup to make this easier to visualize.
Line 1: Line 1 should run through four separate but equally important places.
- Through the back side of the ball
- Through the back side of your leading heel
- Through the front of your leading hip
- Through the front of your leading shoulder
Line 2: Line 2 should run through two separate but equally important places.
- Through the front of your trailing heel
- Through the back of your trailing shoulder
Line M: This line is a supporting line for Line 1 which crosses through two parts of your body.
- The line should start at the zipper of your pants.
- The line should end at the outside of your leading ear.
So with that these lines in mind, let’s look back at Luis’s set up and compare it to Tiger’s.
If you didn’t notice how narrow Luis’s stance width was before, then I would be willing that you do now. For Luis, Line 1 runs through the backside of the ball and the backside of his leading heel. This basically means that his ball position is correct. However, his leading hip and leading shoulder are both slightly in front of the Line 1. Although Line 2 runs through the front of his trailing heel, it is at least four to five inches inside of the back of his trailing shoulder. Anytime that you see your shoulders outside of Line 1 and Line 2, you this is an indication that your stance is not shoulder width apart.
By widening Mr. Gonzalez’s set up with his driver we are going to allow him slightly more mobility to make a full turn. Essentially, he will still be restricting the length of his swing with his core muscles but that restriction will be somewhere closer to parallel than it was before.
Normally I would not recommend changing more than one thing at a time for any golfer. However, because the first change is a static fix – or a fix that is done before the player starts his swing – I am going to push just a little bit more. Our second change will be to create a power pivot.
The power pivot starts with a good strong set up but is meant to utilize the core muscles of your body to create a high torque swing. The place where this is most evident is when you complete your backswing. For the sake of simplicity, let’s use Tiger to show how this works.
Upper Body: The upper body in the power pivot actually moves towards your back foot – similar to a sway.
Lower Body: The lower body – particularly your hips – will appear to have little movement. They are moving though. Rather than sliding back with your upper body, your lower body is turning. In fact, when you first start working on this it feels like you are pushing your hips towards the target.
So now that we know what we are looking for let’s look back at Luis’s swing and compare it to Tiger’s swing.
Just with the naked eye you can tell that Tiger looks like he is in a stronger and more stable position at the top of his swing than Luis. And while stability is important, using your core muscles rather than your arms and shoulders alone will produce much more power. This is our second change we are going to make.
There are two problems that Luis is going to have to attempt to fix and because I don’t think it really fair to just say “go do it,” here are a few suggestions for what my next steps would be.
Ball Position and Stance Width
Ball position is fortunately one of those changes that requires little to no camera work to monitor. However, what it does require is a quick and easy way to make sure you are set up correctly every time. Here’s just one way.
- Measure the width of your shoulders from tip to tip with a measuring tape.
- Using your 3 wood (or any club but your driver) start at your grip and mark the same distance down on your shaft with a piece of electric tape.
- Next tome you are setting up to the ball with your driver, place your 3 wood at your feet and check to see if your stance is shoulder width apart. If it is not, adjust.
Time Line: This is a problem that can be fixed instantly but can take anywhere from a day to a month to adjust to.
Be sure to monitor: Line M. If you are standing shoulder width apart but your leading shoulder still appears to be in front of Line 1, check to see if your leading ear is behind Line M.
This can be an incredibly frustrating position to learn. However, it is not impossible and with a little work on the feel of this position you should have something to take to the golf course. Here’s a quick and easy way to learn the feel of a power pivot.
- As you are setting up to the golf ball as you normally would, position a chair (or bag rack) against your leading hip.
- Slowly begin your backswing. During this motion, make sure 1) as your hips are turning they are still touching the chair and (2) your chin is moving towards your back foot.
- Hold this position between 3 and 5 seconds. As you are holding this position you should feel as if your body is wound up like a rubber band, particularly your thigh of your trailing leg as well as your back muscles.
- Repeat this motion as many times as necessary to help you learn the feel.
Time Line: Not an easy fix but some players pick this up very, very quickly. After several sessions you should start to feel more comfortable with this position but it may take several weeks before you can do it without thinking consciously about it.
Be sure to monitor: your leading shoulder. If your leading shoulder is in front of Line 1 at impact and every other part of your swing is perfect the ball will go screaming to the right. More likely, if your shoulder is in front of Line 1 at impact you are going to try to make a last minute release of the club and lose a considerable amount of power and consistency.
Although there are other parts of Luis’s swing that we will have to address in the future, I believe that correcting his stance width and pivot will have the greatest impact on his game. The changes I am suggesting can be very difficult. However, if you are like Luis and you are looking for more power and consistency with your driver, these are two changes I would highly recommend. Good luck.
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