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Handicap Index

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  1. I recently asked @mvmac, who was familiar with what Dave and I taught, to give us a report card on what advanced players are learning from advanced coaches and how he felt we stood. Mike hasn't seen us teach much in the past four or five years, and we haven't put out a lot of videos (aside from these, of course) lately, either. So some of the things he thinks we teach date back five years or more. Before I get into the list… you're going to quickly see that most of the list is "for better players." I'll make a conscious decision a lot of the time to decide which of two slightly different directions to go. For example, some people here on TST were surprised by the "flow" talk we've had the past several months here on TST. I'll admit to getting people to "create space from the wall" by learning a very centered to even slightly forward-of-center hip pivot (heck, I still give this drill to students), but these are golfers > 6 handicappers (often > 10) who sway their hips back a lot. For them, going a little extreme to this side of things is a conscious choice by me to help their ballstriking. For better players, I talk about more "flow" stuff. I let the right hip look like it moves back an inch or so. The way I talk about a lot of things is a little different. I don't teach "one swing" but I do have one general system of what I think is right, but within that, I have preferences for different types of players. The player who is an 18 who wants to become a 10 and won't really spend a lot of time practicing gets something different than the motivated 6 handicapper trying to become scratch. That all said, the list, and my reactions to it. For Most Players… … I wouldn’t change much, little reverse K setup, err with a stronger grip, Bender/Geoff Jones style pivot with some feet flare, don’t be afraid to get speedy with the arms coming down. So, this is what I talked about up above. For most players — and for us sometimes that's 90% of the people we teach — the simple, very centered, slightly less dynamic pivot stuff he's saying is still pretty good. Again, not much time spent here, so let's move on to the finer details. My text will remain in black. For Better Players… … I don’t know if I would call these changes to what you do but how I would go about teaching better players. Changes in my view from several years ago. In no particular order: Foot Flare No more than 20 degrees of foot flare, even less on trail foot. I understand the reasoning for this, and I'll still add some foot flare to the trail foot for an older good player to help increase range of motion, but I think the gains here are so small that this starts to "matter" (still only a little) to scratch golfers or better. But, maybe there's something to learn here… Hips/Pelvis Pelvis more level or even slight LPT at 1 Avoid idea or image of hip slide I think I get a check mark here. I talk with even mid-level handicap players lately about "landing" on the front foot, which includes a little "flow" back toward the target with the upper body. Even higher handicappers, while I'm emphasizing "getting forward" (great players still get their weight AND pressure forward - the images in the "hip slide" topic aren't "wrong") the hips getting forward, I talk a lot about "sending energy" forward. Hands A1-A2 Little or no depth with the hands to 2 or even feeling forearm counter rotation in takeaway for players that bank the club inward. From DL, the "curve" of the "hula hoop" is basically negligible in the direction of "depth from A1-A2, so what appears to be "straight back. A2 depends on how quickly a player hinges the club, of course, but most good players have a pretty narrow range here. I probably allow a little more hand depth than Mike would like, but often I feel that's a matter of other things being a priority. I like to see the hands go slightly inward the first half of the backswing while the latter half becomes about more "ascent," but even then a lot of that "slightly" is after 1.75 or so. As a brief aside, I think my own swing is shaping up in this regard nicely. I'd get too shallow, too low, and my wrists would react poorly at the top given what I'd done to get there. I now feel like my hands go out away from me from A1-A2.5, but of course they don't actually. As for the counter-rotation, I'll have Mike clarify perhaps, as we've taught this to even poorer players. The feeling that the right hand stays "on top" a bit longer is very helpful in not swinging the clubhead well behind the player, and in keeping the face a bit "squarer" (or at least not flopping it open) longer. "Stretching" the Trail Side Stretching the trail side without elevating the rib cage I get what he's saying, and it's something I work on myself as well. I'll "stand up" a little too much during the backswing. The feel for me is from the top of the right thigh up across my pelvis and just above my belly button, but the rib cage as Mike says doesn't stretch up. S&T teaches you to feel the stretch further up, up the whole right side, and again for higher handicappers we'll let their hips turn (trail leg extends a good bit) and they'll feel the stretch all the way up, but for lower handicappers, we don't do that quite so much this way. Lead Side Unweighting Unweighting lead side early. That could lead to a trigger move or a slight pelvis bump or a little pressure “rock” to the trail side before the club/hands move back. But doesn’t has to. I teach this, and in looking at a few videos of some of Dave's better players, he does too. Mike's right that we didn't as much seven years ago, but the pressure data we were early at looking at led to small changes here. Trail Knee Extension Avoid a lot of trail knee extension from 1-3 Ha, addressed above, before I got to this point. We don't teach a lot of this here. Unlike George Gankas. 🙂 At any rate, for a lower handicapper who lacks some range of motion (an older good player), we might let them get away with more trail knee extension, and to be clear the trail knee still extends measurably. Elbows Close Avoid squeezing the arms together at 1 or in the backswing. Hate this one myself. I've been saying for years that squeezing the elbows together during the backswing is almost the surest way to have them come apart during the downswing. Banking the Trail Foot Avoid trying to bank the trail foot, allow heel to come off the ground by 6 Check. I know why Mike added this - a lot of poor players, and a lot of juniors, will shoot their trail knee toward the ball early in the downswing and the heel will come off the ground VERY early. But I looked back at the lessons of my good players, and the notes, and I've not mentioned the trail foot banking in at least several years. And though admittedly I don't have many Justin Thomas type players… I do let people get away with some more of the "knee action" described above with the driver than with irons. Like JT himself. Stopping at A4 Avoid stopping or rehearsing 4. Pending more information, I don't know that I'll agree here, and I might humbly suggest that because what Mike has been working on, he's seeing this as limiting "flow" and the general athletic movement. On that I'd agree, but sometimes stopping at A4 is a good way to check on something that happened from 2-4 or something. Or if I have someone who is across the line and who dumps it under from there, and they're working on not only getting more "laid off" (feeling only) so the club can pitch out a little (paging @saevel25), it can be useful, IMO, to isolate just that piece starting from the proper spot, so you know it's the proper spot. Also, I will do a lot of "pump drill" type things when teaching something dynamic that's transition or early downswing-related. Fast Backswing Fast backswing via body is good. I might be missing something here, too, as we've talked about speeding up the backswing for awhile now. It's even in LSW, and was "old" when we put it in there. Maybe the bit I'm missing is "via body" but I don't feel that way. Two Random Bits Have concepts for the downswing/impact but train the backswing. Understand that a lot that is occurring with the club/limbs/wrist angles is being heavily influenced by the torso/pelvis motion. These are a bit more philosophical, so, I can't really comment concretely here. We work on a lot of backswings, and since the arms are attached to the shoulders, of course a lot of what they do is governed by how their being "flung." And Mike won't deny that sometimes the downswing is what needs the work. I'll make edits as needed, or comment in posts further down the stream, but I'd like to thank Mike for taking the time to comment. I think we/I graded out pretty well, and if nothing else, I think maybe I'll do more to share and talk about some more advanced player "stuff" in the coming weeks, months, years.
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