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19th Hole

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This blog is for sharing my golf musings based on conversations, experiences I've had or current events in golf. Place for me to rant, share quickie tips, give a unique perspective, bust a few myths, etc.

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Possible Swing Changes for Tiger in his 40's

Posted this on IG yesterday, just something I thought would be interesting to throw out there. I could be completely off but when you look at players that have had long, relatively injury-free careers they tend to have more "freedom" with their lower body (Phil, Jack, Sam Snead, Vijay). By freedom I mean allowing the hips to turn, trail knee losing some flex and the lead knee moving inward. I've also felt Tiger's swing, especially in recent years, is too restrictive and hurts his downswing sequencing. Someone commented that it wasn't a good comparison because the swing of Tiger's isn't a driver swing, it actually is but I'll also share this driver swing from last year in Phoenix.   Here are some of the comments and my responses:




Learning and Owning Your Swing Thoughts and Feels

A big part of what separates TST from other sites is the instructional content that is provided. Golfers want to get better and there are a lot of threads on here that can guide golfers in the right direction. From all these topics and member swing threads we run into these popular questions, "What should I feel?" and "I feel so-and-so when I do this, is that right?". Honestly, the answer is......we have no idea. We're not seeing the swing and not in your body to confirm whether something is right or wrong. Unfortunately there isn't one feel that will work for every player. A golfer that moves their head forward (towards the target) on the backswing is going to have to feel something much different than a golfer that moves their head away from the target. This may surprise many of you but even golfers working on the same priority/Key will probably feel different things. We all have our own tendencies and instincts.  Let's stick with the Key #1 example and say you're the player that tilts the spine towards the target on the backswing (left pic) and moves the head forward. What should you feel to stop doing this? Instructors can suggest feels and manually put you in a position but it's ultimately up to you to finalize the swing thought/feel. Instructors aren't there to tell you what to feel, they're there to help identify the priority, explain the cause and effect, guide you with how the body needs to move to accomplish the motion and recommend some feels.  For the example above, the instructor decided to hold an alignment stick against the player's right hip and left side of their head and has them make a slow, practice backswing. The instructor will probably share a couple feels or images. After a few swings the instructor will ask you how it feels to you. This is important and something all good instructors do. The suggested feels may click with the player or they might have felt it more with the left shoulder bending down and across or that their upper back stayed "flexed over" or something unorthodox. Even a really odd feel can produce good mechanics, just depends on what works for the player. If you get credible advice on a Member Swing thread and aren't sure what it should feel like, do the drill associated with the priority/Key. Most helpful posts include a video or a couple of pics. Do the drill slowly, make yourself uncomfortable and change the picture. Film yourself doing it, take note of what you need to do, what you need to feel to get it right and use that for when you practice. Monitor the feels by filming your swing and your drill swings. If you're the golfer in the left pic, have a friend hold a stick against your head, or make slow practice backswings with your head against a door jam/door, or make the backswings with your right hip next to a wall, etc. Do the work and learn what feels work for you to fix your priority piece. If your head still moves towards the target and you're feeling your head move a foot off the ball, go back to the wall (or drill) for a refresher.  Example from a recent practice session of mine. I needed to improve my hip thrust on the downswing. From 4-4.5 I needed to make sure the hips stayed on their inclination and then I could straighten the legs and extend the arms. So I rehearsed the movement slowly a few times, asked a buddy of mine, "does that look right?" and we filmed it. I basically need to "crunch" a little before I extended. The swing thought that I came up with was the image of a small nerf ball sitting on my left hip at 4 and I had to increase my hip tilt in a way that would "crunch" the ball. It's kind of a silly feel but one that resulted in the desired outcome. Understand that feel works for me (and that I'm not actually increasing my hips slants), it could be disastrous for someone else. When you're working on your swing and making changes, take ownership of your feels, don't solely rely on others to tell you what you need to feel for your swing. Take time in understanding how those feels effect the picture, use video to confirm. For member swing threads, instead of asking if a feel is right or wrong, post a video or pic and ask if the piece is being performed correctly. Help us help you  P.S. 
Don't get distracted by Golf Digest articles from a tour pro sharing their swing thoughts. Tour players don't have the "secret" and most of them don't know anything about the mechanics of the golf swing. The swing thought in the magazine may work for that player even if they may not even actually do what they feel. Every tour player has their own swing thoughts and feels (so who's right?) and just because Jason Day had a great year doesn't mean his quickie tip is going to fix your slice. 




Sharpie Test: Easy Way to Check Your Lie Angles

While it's always a great idea to spend some time with a qualified fitter, there are a couple things you can do on your own to see if your irons are properly fit for you. Recent feedback I've gotten from several fitting experts is that the technique of drawing a sharpie line on the back of a ball is better for dynamic lie fitting than using a lie board. The sharpie test is simple and allows you to hit balls off grass. The lie board with tape on the sole is obviously a popular method but the board is raised off the ground and the surface is different than grass. These differences can influence the club at impact and your swing. The lie board can encourage some players to sweep the ball while some players have a tendency to hit more down than normal, so it can be tough to get accurate and clean readings. Big reason why I like and wanted to share info on the sharpie test, I think it's best if you can accurately represent what will happen on the golf course. Here's how to go about performing the sharpie test. Draw a heavy vertical line on one side of the golf ball with sharpie and place it facing the club head. After impact, the line should be transferred onto the club face. If the line is perfectly vertical your lie angle is good to go (right pic). If the line is tilted out towards the toe of the club (left pic), your club is too upright and the lie angle needs to be flatter to get the line to vertical. Vice versa , if the sharpie line is tilted towards the heel your club, the lie angle is too flat and you would need to bend the club more upright. The test won't tell you exactly how much you need to adjust the clubs but it's a good start.  For a static test, use a business card. Since it's static the test doesn't account for the fact that players are usually higher with the handle at impact, along with some shaft droop but it's something I recommend you do in combination with the sharpie test and getting your height/wrist-to-floor measurements. For this lie angle check, take your address position on a hard surface with the handle at a proper height; butt of the club pointing at or somewhere between the belly button and top of your zipper. Have someone slide a business card under the sole of the club. If the lie angle is correct, it should stop the where the one end of the card is at the center of the club (pic below). If the business card reaches the heel, the club might be too upright, too flat if the card doesn't slide to the middle of the face.   




What every golfer can learn from Tiger Woods

From a conversation I just had with a buddy. Couple things you can learn from the 14-time major champion. 1. It's possible to change the picture.  He's done it several times now and a couple of them have been pretty significant. You can look at a video of his swing and spot whether it was his "Haney swing" or his "Harmon swing". Here's my take on how he does it, he expects and is determined to feel "uncomfortable". He's talked about this in interviews and I've seen in person how he goes about practicing. So many golfers ditch new swing thoughts because it doesn't "feel good "to them when they should be looking to feel uncomfortable! Of course changing a piece in your swing doesn't feel normal, you're changing a motor pattern. It'd be like changing something in the way you walk, it's going to feel like crap until it starts to become your new normal.  Throughout the years we've all seen Tiger go through his slow rehearsals, on the range and on the course (especially after a bad shot). He "maps" out how he wants wants his body to move. Also, since he's hit thousands of balls with the old swing and to ingrain the new motion, he hits A LOT of balls forcing himself to do it the new way. I don't think every amateur has to hit thousands of balls but they'll probably have to make thousands of rehearsal/slow swings in order to see long term results. To make the change stick you're going to have to think about moving your body or a segment of your body in a specific way, you have to do it slowly and do it thousands of times. Seek out that uncomfortable feeling, because if it feels normal, you're not changing the picture. 2. Don't get caught up in a "style" of swing, focus on a priority.  I think it's pretty common knowledge that Tiger loves to tinker with his swing. I think Como has him more focused on the important stuff now but certainly in the past he has gotten too concerned with how he wanted his swing to look rather than focusing on making it more efficient. Butch was actually against making all the changes to get to his "2000 swing" but Tiger was able to talk him into it. He wanted a swing where every position was perfect. With Haney it was the same line of thinking, except the definition of what was perfect changed. He bought into Haney's single plane theory and started rolling his forearms to a great degree on the backswing and had the club laid off at A4. With Foley it was about trying to look more like Grant Waite. And when it comes down to it, the changes were more "style" oriented: arms plane, forearm rotation rates, elbow location, his pivot/body stuff hasn't changed a great deal.  Tiger is great at changing the picture but he's been changing it for the wrong reasons. It's based on the premise that if his swing looks "perfect" he won't hit bad shots. I think it's a good thing to always be working to improve but you can do that without rebuilding your golf swing over and over again. Rebuilding swings or starting from scratch is a complete waste of time and your natural tendencies tend to stay with you no matter what swing you adopt. Tiger has and will always have the head dip, it's just part of golf swing DNA.



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    • We didn't get much for color this year.  It was still 90 degrees in mid/late October.  Then about as quick as it started raining on Forrest Gump in Nam, it turned cold.  Leaves just died and started falling.
    • My yard a few days ago:
    • Just be glad you have colors. Fall lasts about two weeks around here and there ain’t nothing “pretty” about it lol. 
    • Darn it, went to Maine last year and it was okay, not spectacular. Should have gone this year.
    • In mid-Michigan, we didn't have a lot of color compared to previous years.   My wife and I traveled to Tahquamenon Falls in late September and the colors were almost peak there.    My brother just returned from his trip to Acadia national park and said the colors in New Hampshire and Vermont were just amazing, the best he's ever seen and he lives in Colorado.     It definitely is the prettiest time of the year but the leaves sure play havoc trying to find golf balls.  


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