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Last year at about this time, I was added to Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers in America list: (I'll turn 40 in March, so that will put an end to my eligibility on that list). That was cool, and I was honored. This year, while I was returning from the Newport Cup, the lists for Best in State were released. Dave Wedzik and I are in a somewhat odd situation: we're in the Western New York section of the PGA. We've spoken at PGA Education seminars for WNY, NEOH, SOH, and other PGA sections, but none within PA. Votes for Best in State are compiled by asking other instructors in your state to select and rank their peers. Our peers in NY and Ohio have never had the option to choose us (nor, for example, can I vote for John Graham, among others who deserve more acclaim than they've gotten to date - he too is on the Best in State list). Anyway, I missed all the Tweets and Facebook posts about people showing off their "Best in State" status. I forget how I first found out, but at any rate, both @david_wedzik and I are on the list; he's 4th (and a two-time PGA Section Teacher of the Year), I'm 6th. First is Top 50 John Dunigan, a guy I'm happy to call a friend, and a 5SK® Certified instructor. I'm even, somehow, ranked ahead of Eric Johnson, formerly of Oakmont. https://www.golfdigest.com/story/best-teachers-state-ranking That's all pretty nice, and like the Best Young Teachers award, I'm honored. And… that's about all I have to say about that. Thanks. P.S. I think Dave and I are the only two instructors in Western PA. I haven't checked a few of the locations yet, but I'm pretty sure most are at Nemacolin or east, and most are around Philadelphia. P.P.S. Oh, here's the list of PA instructors on the list:
Nick Clearwater, a buddy of mine (and @mvmac and @david_wedzik and others) is the head instructional guy at GolfTec these days, and generally has good information. Though I'm not always a huge fan (I'll explain why a bit later) of using "Tour averages" to teach average players, the numbers are still illustrative. Let's take a look at each, with the numbers and a brief note on each. Hip Sway (Backswing) Pros: 3.9" toward the target Ams: 2.55" toward the target Notes: This measures the tailbone and how much it moves toward the target during the backswing. As the tailbone is at 12 o'clock, and as it rotates toward 3 o'clock, that's toward the target. Amateurs often sway the hips back as they rotate, robbing them of some of this distance. Example: Shoulder Tilt at the Top Pros: 36° downward (lead shoulder) Ams: 29.6° downward Notes: This is just how "flat" or "steep" your shoulders turn at the top of the backswing. Keeping your chin up, standing too tall at address, rotating and lifting up are all causes. Example: Charley Hoffman's shoulder tilt matches spine angle: Hip Turn at Impact Pros: 36° open to the target line Ams: 19.5° open Notes: Amateurs stall for a lot of reasons, but one of the bigger ones is that they stall so that they can try to drop the club inside a little and get the clubhead down to the ball. Often this isn't something you worry about until you're a lower handicap golfer, but good golfers almost all rotate through impact - you won't find many PGA Tour pros who are relatively "square" at impact. Example: Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk are wide open at impact: Hip Sway at Impact Pros: 1.6" toward the target Ams: -0.4" toward the target Notes: This is measured relative to the setup position, and remember, the hips are rotating here and this measurement is still at the tailbone. So a tailbone that has AWAY from the target (think 12 o'clock at setup to before 11 o'clock at impact, or 36° per the above), has also slid several inches - the difference between 10:48 and 12:00 is made up for, PLUS an additional 1.6". The average golfer is not only rotating less (11:21), but they're not sliding their hips forward much if at all (11:21 may be close to -0.4"…). Example: Rose at Setup and Impact (tailbone marked): Shoulder Tilt at Impact Pros: 39° upward (face-on view) Ams: 27.5° Notes: This is a measure, as seen from face-on, of how much shoulder tilt from the trail to the lead shoulder the average player has versus the PGA Tour player. Because PGA Tour players are more forward and more open, it follows that this number will be greater, too. Example: Tiger Woods and Fred Couples demonstrate this well here: Shoulder Bend in the Follow Through Pros: 32° back bend Ams: 3.2° back bend Notes: This is a measurement of how far forward your hips are versus your head. If you're straight up and down, the measurement would be 0°. If you're doing a "morning stretch" and really arching your back, pushing your "belt" out and forward and up, you'll get a higher number. Example: Zach Johnson and Adam Scott show this off quite well: As to why I don't like teaching averages… Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk are very open. They're both one of the longer and shorter hitters out there. Averages are just that - an average - and players exist across a pretty wide spectrum. If the average AoA with a 7-iron is 4.1° down, you'll find PGA Tour players winning millions of dollars at 5° down and 2° down… and both can work well. Everyone's built differently. Averages account for all body types, all shot shapes, all types of swings. You know how if they take the average measurements of models and build a "model model," it's not all that attractive? The same can be true of striving to get the "average PGA Tour golf swing numbers." You might end up with something that's pretty, but you'd never get Cindy Crawford's mole.
http://www.golfdigest.com/story/10_rules_jim_mackay First sight is best sight. - Meh. Architects (try to) fool you all the time. And, I would say, nothing involving "sight" is best. Read with your feet, too. - This is the only tip that should be in this article, which should be titled "Take an AimPoint clinic." Speed doesn't always kill. - Phil also three-putts a lot from five feet and in because he jams putts in. Yes, if you can hit your line within a few tenths of one degree, take a little break out and hit it firmly. Develop an insurance read. - This one doesn't really say anything other than "I don't mind slow play." One read for bent, two for Bermuda. - Uhhhh… okay? Unless he's talking exclusively about short putts, the physics doesn't back this one up much at all. Your partner must love the read. - That's fine advice if you're playing with a partner, yes. The best look: behind the hole. - I still disagree that any "look" is best. Be wary of plumb-bobbing. - No shit Jim. It doesn't work AT ALL. Know the local topography. - Nah. Almost never applies, and can persuade you to go against everything else. The only topography that matters is VERY local - the topography between your ball and the hole. Respect the comebacker. - Or, if you don't jam all your putts like Phil Mickelson, just tap them in. What are your thoughts? For those of you who haven't taken an AimPoint class, too, I'm curious: why not?
Congrats to TST founder and owner Erik J. Barzeski (@iacas) on making the list for the Golf Digest Best Young Teachers in America under 40! Well deserved and about time! I'm raising a can of Cherry Coke Zero in celebration!