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Instructor Dilemma ("Stack and Tilt" Style Guy)

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Stack and tilt... I have some huge reservations about stack and tilt primarily because of the fact that the entire foundation of the swing is based on flawed geometry. I think we have talked about this before but if you have one thing wrong with your swing you are going to play terrible. So you need something to offset. Honestly, I feel like that is how the stack and tilt swing is made. It's just a lot of offsetting movements put together in a way that just isn't very efficient. Personally, I think it's a beginner's swing and that's why a lot of the tour pros are moving away from it. For someone that has a low handicap stack and tilt might be detrimental.

I'm a big fan of this advice, maybe because it is what I believe as well. I am self-taught and have no choice but to be my own best teacher. Maybe that just means I'm stubborn as all hell, who really knows, but when it comes to self-improvement away from the course and practice range, you can't get any better than a bunch of sick cameras, a computer, and a half-hour to kill- assuming you've read all the important books, which I'm sure you have.

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"These players are the best at what they do"...

I think he meant PGA Tour players in general. I agree the various Stack and Tilters aren't exactly tearing it up.

I think you're harping too much on the fact that I used the words "Stack and Tilt." As I said, if he starts to shove too much of that on me, I'll leave.
"... key is to use the circular motion of your hands and arms to create the correct path"...

I didn't particularly care for that piece either.

My biggest fear at this point is that I won't like the guy's method (or his "pieces"), and that I'll be stuck yet another year without anyone to help me. Yippee.
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You are obviously experienced enough to know, if he can help you or not after a couple of lessons.

So I don't see any risk in being open and see him for some lessons.

Having a good pro so close can be a great thing. And from what I read, the guy is experienced.
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I'm with everyone else on this, it sounds like it would not be a good fit. Also, the guy sounds like he's going to be a cookie cutter instructor. He has only one method and one way of teaching and will not adapt to your swing. But try him out for a lesson see what you think. I do think you're taking the right step with getting lessons though, I've been there when you hit a wall and you really do need an instructor to help you get through that block. I think when you do find a great instructor and start getting lessons, you'll think to yourself "Why did I not do this years ago!"

As for your swing, I remember seeing it a year ago and even you know your backswing is a little too flat. I used to be in the same boat as you, and although it's easier said than done, getting your backswing more upright will improve your swing instantly. Swing in front of the mirror and get your backswing more upright, it might feel as though your club is going outside the target line (for me it did) and even way too vertical, but I bet you that'll do wonders. Best of luck.
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It's scary. One week someone who was looking at the swing of someone I know said "don't ever let anyone change that", a few weeks later same instructor, having gotten some exposure to the one plane ideas was extolling the benefits of the one plane swing, etc. and suggesting some one plane type changes (nothing drastic, but still . . .).

That doesn't mean, as we all know, that getting attached to an ideology means converting hook, line and sinker, but mixed signals from instructors can strike a little fear into anyone who thinks their swing is in pretty good shape and doesn't want to mess it up, and only wants to take what has been worked hard to be a pretty good thing to a little higher, or more consistent level.

I'm hopeful that the guy is experienced enough to work with any golfer to better what they have, if it can be bettered, and if so, it should be a great relationship. If not, as others have said, you'll find out pretty quickly and have the advantage of enough knowledge to recognize that.

I'm guessing he'll be good.
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Go see him like you plan to. You are smart enough and a good enough golfer to know if what he tells you is something you want to follow or not. Like you said, if you don'tlike what he tells you, you can always walk away. On the other hand, he might be a great set of eyes to help you tweak your swing and get past the wall you've run into.
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  • 3 weeks later...
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Lesson is Friday at 10am. I'm currently debating wardrobe choices: I think light tan slacks and a solid-color (light) shirt will work best to show creases and whatnot in the appropriate places.

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Hope all goes well for you. Friday is supposed to be beautiful.

I found this on youtube. It's a clip of Baddley's stack and tilt swing. I think he's using a 3-wood (maybe 5-wood) off the tee. It looks pretty good to me, but I'm no expert.

I thought that including a clip of a Stack&Tilt; swing in the thread might be interesting.

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My thoughts:
My brother experimented with S&T; for a while and was quite happy.
I think that the technique is excellent for hitting short irons as it is a great way to keep balanced, but as for driving and long to mid irons, I don't think so.
Also - and I know that this is not strictly relevant to your circumstances - there are not (to my knowledge) any S&T; tour disciples whose games have gone forward with it from a strong starting point. The successes seem to be with guys who were in trouble. Badds is a good example. He was great before he started and now has given it away. It seems to have short term effects for people whose games are going south.
But...as I said, for 8 iron down, it makes sense.
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I found this on youtube. It's a clip of Baddley's stack and tilt swing.

I must not be saying things clearly enough. Let's try a bold approach:

I'm NOT switching to Stack and Tilt. The whole "dilemma" stems from the fact that, aside from those three words, this guy represents the best chance I've got of having good local instruction. I've been up front with him about wanting to maintain a traditional swing, and he's said that he uses S&T; as the basis for some of his positions and geometries, but can help me build a traditional swing if I'd like. I'm going to drop the guy before the first lesson is over if I sense that he's trying to convert me to S&T.; I know enough about the golf swing to know that I don't want that, I've shared this with him, and he seems confident he can still help. Again, the whole "dilemma" was whether someone who's primarily grounded in the S&T; philosophy is capable of working with me on a more traditional swing. He is confident that he can. The true answer is: I'll find out tomorrow. I'm only choosing this guy (and even then just giving him a trial opportunity) for two reasons: a) he's going to be "the" instructor at my home golf course, and b) I don't like the other teachers for various reasons (personality, teaching method, past results with others, their typical student), etc. But again, I'm not converting to S&T.;
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Can you tell anything about your swing from your pants? How?

As I said, light colored pants show up better on video. Most video cameras don't have a ton of dynamic range, and shot outside in fairly bright sunlight, dark colored pants tend to go very dark and don't show creases very well.

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Yikes, my mistake. I thought you were going to give into it for at least 5-6 lessons. Probably the wise choice though; after all, most of us were introduced to S&T; through an infomercial.

Side tangent: As a joke, I tried to order my friend a snuggie and a shamwow. Both are complete scams. The Shamwow doesn't work- at all. You might as well be attempting to "soak up a puddle with a plastic bag." And the snuggie company ended up sending my friend SIX snuggies and then charging me for all of them. Needless to say, I was angered and attempted to contact them to express said anger; however, contacting either company is pretty much impossible. Scam city, my friends. Now my buddy and his girlfriend are stuck with six snuggies and a shamwow that doesn't work. I think it's safe to conclude that I won't be invited over for dinner anytime soon...oh, and the snuggies smell weird. Just another one of my attempts to be funny that went horribly wrong.
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So my first lesson was Friday, as I mentioned. It was to be an hour, but we worked for nearly 90 minutes. He's said before he doesn't watch the clock, so it's good to see that we'll accomplish what we need to accomplish before the lesson's over.

Pre-Emptive PDF

I first started with a general discussion of the three-page PDF I'd sent him. It outlined my golf history, my current theories on what I need to improve in my swing, and my goals. I'll point out that I put a lot of thought into the document, and my goals were focused on not only breaking some prolonged bad habits, but also two more important things:

  • Be able to self-diagnose issues, not necessarily mid-round, but at least on the range, and often without video (though I do intend to video myself more regularly).
  • Develop some drills and training methods for maintaining my golf swing and providing periodic self check-ups.

He told me that if every student provided a document to him like that, his job would be so, so, so much easier. I would guess that's true of most teaching professionals, so word to the wise: write up and maintain a document like this for your instructors.

We also talked about how I'm going to really not try to work on my own swing during the instructional time (i.e. this whole year, as I've got nine lessons scheduled). I initiated the conversation and made sure to mention again that I was okay with getting worse short-term to get better long-term. He again said that shouldn't happen... I wasn't so sure. My bad habits are fairly well ingrained.

Beginning of the Lesson

Anyway, I warmed up and then he filmed me hitting 5-irons from the front (facing), down the line, and behind.

The wind was about 35 to 40 MPH into and a little right - real fun hitting huge cuts with a 5-iron that doesn't quite get to the 150 sign.


We went inside to look at the video, and he immediately queued up two videos which would allow him to point out two things he noticed on the range. That inspired confidence - if you ever go to an instructor and they don't see things until they see it on video, they suck and you should leave immediately.

I'll get to those two things in a bit, but he pointed out a few other things and was quite complimentary of me. He said that despite my takeaway (again, will get to it) being poor (my words - he never put me down) I'm athletic enough and recover well. Indeed, halfway back, I was in nearly identical positions as Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilv (body positions, face on view) and Charlie Wi (shaft angle, clubface on the latter, from the down-the-line view).

I continued my swing way too long, and he pointed out a few things in my downswing and their results in the follow-through.

We discussed a few things that I'd seen in the video - the same things I'd written up in the PDF - and confirmed that we were on the same page before heading back out to the range to work on the two flaws he had seen.

Two Flaws

The flaws were the same things I was aware of already, and thought I was working to fix, but hadn't ever really known how to fix. He provided some good imagery, though, that should help me.

The first flaw was that I was over-rotating my hands/forearms and pushing my hands away from my body a bit on the backswing. I was trying to self-correct sucking the clubhead back behind my hands, and was doing so by trying to shove the clubhead out away from me. It wasn't working. He said the clubhead tends to "know" where the plane is, and if you push your hands out the clubhead will try to stay on plane, and will thus come inside to compensate. He said we'd focus on keeping my hands inside, closer to my body, for more of a one-piece takeaway. My PDF said that sometimes my arms don't feel connected to my body as much as they should, and this is why: it happens right away, not later in the swing.

We also talked about keeping the clubface turned down a bit. Over-rotating (opening) the clubface is something I've done for awhile now. I even tend to over-rotate the putter open. Essentially, at parallel going back, the club's leading edge should be parallel with your spine angle. I knew that, but I hadn't quite known how vertical my leading edge had gotten.

On the downswing, the flaw was simple: not enough of a weight shift. I'd known this, but I never quite knew how to fix it. I'd tried stupid things like the Gary Player walk-through drill and everything else I could think of, but my lower body and hips never seemed to get fully through the shot.

He pointed out three things. First was right leg - something you don't normally think about in a weight transfer on the downswing. He pointed out how much weight I still had on my right toes, but also how much bend I still had in my right knee. He wanted that leg to be "longer, taller."

Second was my left side. He showed me more pictures of Tiger and Geoff Ogilvy, among others, and showed how "long and tall" they were on their left sides. A straight, bowed left leg and hip, upper body slightly tilted back - just a long, gentle arc from their left pinkie toe, up and out to their hip, and then up to their left shoulder.

Third was video of Ben Hogan, who he said was the best ever at sliding his hips forward through the downswing. We watched video and I mentioned again my struggles with that. I told him I'd always heard "bump, then turn" for the left hips. He said "yeah, that's one of the things pros say they do, but in reality the turn will happen naturally, and their "bump" is more like a full-on sliding of their tailbone forward (towards the target) and up. The video of Hogan was pretty incredible in re-inforcing that point, as was the finish positions of Tiger and Geoff compared to mine.

Back to the Range - Drills

So we went back to the range to work on things. First was fixing the take-away. He asked me if I was a "put my body/club in the right positions or just tell me" kind of guy. I said, having never taken lessons, I didn't know for sure, but he should probably try putting them in positions (by grabbing and moving the club or me) first, then tell me after that since I have to feel it on my own eventually anyway.

So the takeaway... we worked on that by taking my right hand to my right pocket. He pointed out that it won't get there, the right hip will move out of the way anyway, and we were exaggerating the move to break my habit. That was fine. He also emphasized keeping my right hand on top of the club. To be honest, it felt like I was hooding the clubface on the way back, but when I'd peek and look at the leading edge, it'd be on about my spine angle. He said if I want to exaggerate it even more, that'd be okay.

I combined both of those moves into one in my head: butt end of the grip to my left pocket. By keeping the hands in, the clubhead stays on the plane and naturally stays outside of my hands. By keeping the right hand a bit more on top (i.e. not fanning open my forearms/hands), my backswing is naturally shorter.

He had me hit 40-yard 7-irons (I was probably hitting them 70 yards, not 40 - and into that wind that was more like a 100-yard swing), but he was okay with that) practicing this move and not worrying about anything else. I probably did that for 15 minutes. He'd occasionally say "good" or "better" or "a bit more." It was just about me getting the feel for what he wanted.

After awhile of doing that, we worked on the weight transfer/hips/long/tall stuff. This was tougher for me to get, because I have to: a) push my tailbone through and up as much as possible (the turn will happen naturally), be long and tall with my left and right legs, keep my head centered (i.e. not let it go forward with the tailbone), and keep my arms long (if I use my old short-arm swing, I hit the ball thin).

So he again had me hit 40 (80) yard shots focusing on that. He said I got perhaps anywhere between 30-40% of the way towards where I need to be right away, and a good bit higher than that the more I worked on it. He said too it's tough to go all the way with such a short swing anyway - you just don't have the time - but he liked what he was seeing.

I self-diagnosed the head moving forward thing. Any shot that was blocked right I assumed that my head was moving, because when I was conscious of keeping it back the ball took off much straighter.

I chunked and thinned a fair percentage of the shots I hit, but I wasn't worried about them at all. It wasn't embarrassing and I didn't try to hit good golf shots - I just tried to feel the sensations and positions he was looking for me to achieve. He was very upbeat in that regard, and it helped tremendously.
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More Video

Finally we went back inside to look at the new videos of my short shots. Immediately you could see the club was in a much better position on the takeaway. I was more effortlessly getting back to where I had to work to get to earlier. On the follow through, I saw what he meant about being 50-60% of the way there on the weight shift, my right leg was noticeably longer, and you could easily see that my left ankle was more rolled out and a bit more on the toe than the heel.

The biggest difference was with the hands, arms, and club shaft. Where before, due to the "bump and rotate" hips I had going, my weight shift wasn't really happening like it should and I'd often have to kind of flip the clubhead a little bit - like a little cast at impact. My right arm and shoulder was cramped coming through the ball, very soft (which is part of why he wanted me to have long arms too), and the club shaft was barely leaning forward at impact. There was an angle between my left arm and my club shaft.

The after video showed none of these signs. Arm-shaft line was straight, leaning forward seven or eight degrees, and You could clearly see that I was taking a better divot. My right arm and shoulder extended through the ball and wasn't cramped at all. Again, my right leg was less flexed at the knee and taller through impact.

Successive Days

Later that day I went to Lake View to play a little. I told myself I wasn't keeping score and I'd just try to focus on the sensations. Good thing because I shanked and chunked and bladed everything. We played 1-3, 15-18, and on 17 and 18 I played okay, including a crushed drive on 18.

On Saturday (the next day, yesterday) I went to the range at Lake View and hit balls for 90 minutes. I filmed myself, but I don't know if I'll look at the video. I just want to focus on the sensations, the feel. This is where I really cemented the head thing as something I have to watch for - not sliding it forward with the hips. The instructor had mentioned it, but given the other four things I was thinking about, I didn't factor it in at the time. As I begin to habitualize some of the other moves, I can work on the head thing.

Then I went to play some 5900-yard course (white tees, but the blues are only 6000) in the 40 MPH wind. Rating and slope were 70.9 and 120, so it wasn't the biggest cakewalk ever, but it's not exactly a stern test either - and there's no easy course in a 40 MPH perpetual wind.

I played well, shot 73 (+1), with nines of 35 and 38. The back nine I started pulling my drives a little bit (I think perhaps I lost the hip slide), but my ballstriking was really good. You hear them say how a well-struck ball doesn't seem to be as affected by the wind, and I've experienced that a few times, but not like today. I hit a 3/4 3I from 190 dead into the wind that I was simply hoping to land well short of a green so it might trundle on, and the darn thing flew the green (yardage measured with laser, so I wasn't off there, and I double-checked).

So, that's lesson #1.

Wrap Up

I'm glad I was apprehensive, but the guy did a great job of showing me non-stack-and-tilt players (Tiger, Ogilvy, and plenty of Hogan) to reinforce what he was talking about in regards to the geometries. Except for the part where he talked about straightening the right leg on the take-away, nothing struck me as stack-and-tilty - and believe me, I was looking for it. And the right leg thing he plainly admitted was an S&T; move, and that I shouldn't worry about that part of the takeaway.

The "geometries" he talked about all seemed fairly classic: impact position with arm and shaft, right leg, belt buckle pointing up and forward of the ankle, clubface position at parallel to ground, etc. and again were reinforced by very non-S&T; players.

I was relieved that the things I knew I need to fix were indeed the things I had to fix - I was just going about fixing them in the wrong way. That made me feel good about myself and my knowledge of the golf swing (or, rather, of MY golf swing).

Suffice to say I've already given him the check for the other 8 lessons for me and the other 6 for the wife. Next one's in two weeks (Friday).
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