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About this blog

I often say that I have an ocean of knowledge, but all a student needs in a lesson is a cup.

This blog is for droplets. Little things I see and notice while giving lessons that may or may not benefit you specifically, but which strike me enough to post here about it.

Entries in this blog

Quality of Practice

Far too many people judge the quality of their practice by the quality of the shots they hit when they practice. I choose to judge the quality of my practice by how much I succeeded at learning and improving. I've had great range sessions where I didn't hit a single ball terribly solidly. I've had great range sessions where I didn't hit a ball, with a 6-iron, over 50 yards. I've had great range sessions where I know I'm going to hit a bunch of shanks, and when I do, take that as proof that

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Putt to the Picture (via Tiger Woods)

Distance control is an "athletic" thing for most golfers. Unless you're Bryson DeChambeau, who knows that a 12" backstroke makes the ball go 15.739 feet (or whatever), players tend to putt best when they tap into their athleticism. That's why studies will point out how golfers putting from 25+ feet with their eyes looking at the hole often have better distance control (even though they slightly mishit some putts) than golfers looking down at the ball. Combine both: do what Tiger Woods learn

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Key #1 - It's Not About the Head

I worked with one of the college players today. His spine was around 31°, and he'd turn his shoulders at about that angle early on in his backswing, but by the time he got to the top it would be 18 or 19°. Predictably, his head drifted back a little, but up a fair amount. So, we worked on Key #1. I could have called it Key #4 (path) but it was a bit more of a secondary effect. Heck, even Key #5 was improved. But Key #1 is not about the head. I know, it's in the name, but we say this: t

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Give or Take 2-3 Degrees

There's a reason @david_wedzik and I trademarked the phrase "Golf is Hard"®. https://thesandtrap.com/b/the_numbers_game/angles_of_error Here's a par three that is often a 7- or 8-iron (but can be a 6-iron). A driver on a par five. And another par three that plays from 190-220 yards. In all three cases, you have about +/- 2 or 3° in which to hit your shot, or else we deem the shot "a failure." Set your expectations properly, and give yourselves the credit you deserve whe

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The Last Moment of Truth

That comes from the behind-the-scenes peek from the famous Time interview with Tiger Woods: http://scoregolf.com/blog/lorne-rubenstein/the-goods-on-woods/ . Tiger, it turns out, is wrong. The golf swing is too fast. Even if you could instantly form a thought and direct your muscles to do something, it quite literally takes too long for the nerve impulse to travel from your brain to your muscles for it to do anything past about A5. That's right: if your brain hasn't told your muscl

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Exaggeration Necessary

This golfer is working on not delivering the clubhead AND his hands from so deep: Predictably, he often hit BIG pushes, BIG draws/hooks, and more than his fair share of shanks. Do I eventually want him to swing like the golfer on the right? Absolutely not. But he - like you - has made hundreds of thousands of swings like the one on the left. If he exaggerates in practice, and swings INward more than he eventually should, I'm good with it. I encourage it, in fact.

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iacas in Droplets

"What Works" is not Always Better

I often see said here on the forum that people will "try things" and "if it works, they adopt it." While occasionally that's fine, more often than not it leads to a destructive path that hinders long-term growth. Things that work "right away" are often band-aids, or compensations. Take this golfer for example: On the left, "his swing." No lessons, just an athlete that "figured some stuff out" that let him at least hit the balls somewhat solidly. He started forward, stayed fo

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Finding the Ball

When we work with students, we often tell them that we don't expect them to hit the first 20 or 30 balls "better" or even as good as they were before, we just expect them to hit them "differently." Sometimes that "difference" is better, but often it's worse. The difference is often (not always… it depends very much on what the change is…) an insight into how good a golfer can ever expect to be. You see, some golfers are just better at what @david_wedzik and I call "finding the golf ball."

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Work Required

Golf is hard™. Change is hard. If you want to get better at golf, it takes time, it takes effort, it takes motivation, and it takes a commitment. It's not something that's going to come easily. Now, I do encourage golfers to work smarter, not harder. There are a LOT of drills you can do hitting a cotton ball, or making swings against a wall, or in a mirror, in five or ten minutes a day at home or in your office. But you've gotta put in at least that much time. Golfers wh

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Attacking the Root Cause

Quick one today. Below, you'll see a player whose right arm stays pretty straight a long time. This leads to the right elbow getting a bit too far around/behind, and then it gets stuck there on the downswing. The player compensates by tipping the head back (as the right arm stays flexed a long time), and the left arm actually bends slightly too so she doesn't crash down into the ground. In the improved image, you'll note the right elbow flexes sooner. This limits the "late flexin

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Small Things, Big Differences

Earlier today I fit a college player and a reasonably good putter with an Edel putter. His putter was a typical blade - the old PING/Cameron/Everyone-Has-a-Version classic blade putter with some heel/toe weighting. He could aim his putter, from about ten feet (bear in mind that the laser reflects back over the same ten feet, doubling the error), to about four inches outside the right edge of the cup. Not great, but not as bad as we've seen from many. His putter had a single, solitary thin l

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I Gave a Bad Lesson Today

I am constantly critiquing myself. I give a lot of good lessons. Lessons about which I feel I did really well. Lessons I'd give myself an "A" for giving; not an A+, mind you, which almost never happens. But As and A-s. And I'm a pretty harsh grader. But today I gave a C+ lesson that I may have recovered and turned into a B+ lesson, if only by recognizing it early enough. The details are unimportant, but basically, I found myself talking about something that was probably priority #3 or

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The Big Number

I attended the Division III ECAC championship this past weekend. And I saw a lot of quadruple bogeys. On a relatively wide open golf course. It made no sense to me. None. This golf course was not that difficult, and the vast majority of the big scores were from two simple errors: Being far too aggressive at the wrong times. Making utterly horrible swings. For the first, I mean stuff like this: you hit the ball in a fairway bunker, and have a 4-iron left to the green.

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A Tweet Regarding the Length of the Backswing

The point of the backswing is to turn your body and to slightly bend your trail elbow, to elevate your trail elbow (to varying degrees), and to hinge your wrists (to varying degrees). The first bit — what's commonly called "turning your shoulders" — is the most important. Getting the club to parallel is not even on the list.

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I Fix a Lot of Setups

I know we've been talking lately about how setup is "automatic" (or it's not ), but I must say… I fix a lot of setup positions. I don't save out the images from all of my lessons. In fact, only a small percentage of the time do I feel I've done something I want to CC to myself for various reasons. But of those lessons, well, take a look: I'll often tell students: They'll answer "none" or "hardly any" or something like that, and I'll say "Great, you're right! You just have

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AMCC Championships All Came Down to GamePlanning

My men's golf team won the AMCC Championship this past weekend with a two-day score of 637 (keeping the best four out of five scores). That works out to 79.625 on a fairly difficult layout at Avalon Lakes Golf & Country Club. ALGCC is a Pete Dye course that, like many Pete Dye courses, is very target-golf oriented. Dye seems to love to use visual trickery to goad players into going for more than they can handle. Sure, it rewards the long drive into the very narrow alley way between wate

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Go Back to Your First Lessons

I gave a lesson to a guy the other day who said he wanted to learn "how to play golf." He was being sarcastic, as he's played golf for 40 years or so, has made many nice changes and improvements to his golf swing, and is playing quite well for his age. Despite this, his texts from the day before were of the panicking type. I gave him a lesson. I wanted him to do two things. First, I wanted him to take his left shoulder down a bit more so his head didn't drift back and up during the bac

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Small Change, Big Change

Fixing one thing like this fixed a lot of other things that come after. Proper prioritization is important. For this golfer, fixing this part of the backswing made a lot of later compensations unnecessary.

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We Didn't Work on his Downswing

We worked on his backswing. His pivot. Reducing the sway. And a little bit of setup work (the grip is quite a bit stronger - this player may need to reduce the strength eventually, but not now). This speaks to prioritization. That doesn't always mean fixing the first part of the swing that goes wrong, but often, that's kind of how it feels, because everything after that becomes a compensation.

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Some Compensations Don't Need Attention

This golfer's wrists collapsed like crazy at the top of the backswing. They don't anymore. He also had trouble hitting out at the golf ball at all. The fix? A bit of a two-in-one solution: TURN MORE. The golfer was bending the wrists so much to try to feel that the clubhead was getting near parallel somewhere. Now, he doesn't have to, and yet his arms have gained not only more depth, but more distance and can thus generate more speed as well. I'll often say to pe

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JEP Video on "Keeping Your Arms In Front of You"

A video I recorded on a whim today for the two or three kids who missed their session this week in the Junior Elite Program. P.S. I know your hands/arms don't truly stay in front of your chest, but compared to how far to the side many/most people get their hands/arms, they stay a lot more toward the front than they're keeping them now.

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Vineyard Vines Flow Trace

For a student, I traced out a little "flow" trace or "COM" trace. It's exaggerated in scale, but I think it's fairly representative of what a good player's "feel" is mixed with a bit of the common reality. When I was done, it looked to me like the Vineyard Vines whale, so I drew a little tail on it. Here it is: 1, 2, 3, and 4 are A1 through A4 (or Ps if you still prefer those). At A1, the pressure is pretty centered. At A2, the pressure has just about reached the far

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Do Less (Forgetting Sarah Marshall Style)

I find myself saying in lessons quite often^ lately "Do Less." For example, on the backswing, people will often move their hands around, bend elbows in every direction, move the clubhead everywhere, the knees are doing a bunch of stuff, etc. Their backswings are too long, and really, if they just make a little turn and "fling" (I use that word a lot too) their arms up and back, they end up in a good spot. I think that in students of the game can get caught up in trying to do "too much"

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Embrace the Uncomfortable

All too often, a student will make a comment that something feels “weird” or even “uncomfortable.” GOOD!!! Changing something you’ve done ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million times… should be uncomfortable. Embrace the uncomfortable! Comfort likely means you’re doing the same thing. It’s familiar. It’s easy. Learning happens on the edge of uncomfortable. Exaggerate something. Swing slower. Hit massive curving shots that go the other direction from your typical sha

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