How to Hit the 3 Wood (Fairway Wood)

For most golfers, hitting a 3 wood off the fairway is a scary proposition! But the reality is that hitting a fairway wood is no different than any other club in the bag except for the driver – and even that is debatable.

The key to solid fairway wood strikes is to HIT DOWN on the ball exactly as you would an iron.

Take a look at this video of me hitting down on a 13 degree titleist fairway metal below. You will note that I’m hitting down on the ball as I take a divot in front of the ball, and the ball comes out very low.

Also note the ball position – it’s in the same place I would hit a pitching wedge. Most people don’t understand ball position, so let’s talk about it.  How to hit 3 wood off the deck.



Ball position can vary from shot to shot if you want to alter the shape or trajectory. BUT for a stock shot, the ball should always be in the same place from front to back.

That’s because, all things considered equal, the bottom of the divot ideally will always bottom out at the widest point in the downswing, which is a line straight down from the middle of the left shoulder socket for right handed golfers.

Now, you can easily alter this position through any number of movements, but if you have a natural release of the club – ie. you’re not casting, flipping, etc. – and you have good swing mechanics, the divot will bottom out here every time.

When I do my RST golf clinics, this is one of the key fundamentals I demonstrate to my students.

I start swinging the club back and forth with my left arm only. Without fail, my divot bottoms out in exactly the same place every single time as long as I don’t alter it.

Think of it as a grandfather clock and a pendulum. Your left shoulder is the pivot point, and the club is the pendulum. As long as the pivot point is fixed in space, the club bottoms out in the same place, and solid contact is a certainty.

Now, it should be said that the right arm coming onto the club to take its grip can and does move the bottom of the arc back slightly as the the two pivot points counter balance each other, but if you properly release the club with the right hand, the amount is not overly significant.

So, long story short, if you want to start smashing 3 woods off the deck and start reaching those long par 5s in two, you need hit down on the ball to ensure solid contact, and you need to put the ball in the proper position.

If you don’t know what that is, check out this article and video on proper golf ball position at setup.

hit down on 3 wood from fairway
Note the low launch angle showing that I’ve hit down on the ball.

Pro Golfer Breaks Neck – Vows Return to Golf

START HERE: “Creating Lag in the Downswing Secret” Video

I’m Chuck Quinton, and on June 11, 2011, I almost died.

Over the course of the next few days, I almost died 3 more times.

It’s amazing how quickly life can change. One instant all is well, the next you’re laying in the ER and overhear, “Bed 19 is going to need a neuro consult. He broke C1 in three places.”

My first thought was, “Oh man, poor bastard!” Then, as I watched my wife’s face completely drain of blood and turn pale white, my next thought was, “Oh f#&k, what bed am I in again?”

How I used to spend my days snowboarding.

Life was going very well for me on June 11, 2011. It was opening day at the Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, CO.

I had spent my last few summers in Colorado; originally as the Teaching and Playing Professional at Castle Pines Golf Club, and later as a competitive downhill mountain biker. But once I heard about Valmont, I knew I had to move there for the summer so I could practice my 360’s and backflips on my mountain bike every day.

Now, you may ask yourself, “Why the hell is a former professional golfer and well known golf instructor risking his life mountain biking?”

The simple answer is, there’s more to life than golf, and I was a professional snowboard mountaineer long before I was ever a pro golfer. I’ve always had a penchant for thrill seeking, and my love for mountain biking knew no rival.

But things change…

I had been waiting for opening day at Valmont literally for months. I couldn’t wait to launch over the huge wooden and dirt jumps.

I had stopped playing professional golf in 2009 after a busy summer teaching at Castle Pines because I simply got burnt out. Teaching and playing every day while throwing in a few tournaments here and there had taken their toll on me mentally, and I needed a change of pace.

Getting back into competitive mountain biking was the perfect escape, and I started racing downhill in 2010. My last two races of the season I placed 1st and 4th, and so when the 2011 season was ready to start, I was fired up to whoop some ass. I could hardly contain myself.

And then it happened…

chuck quinton
Me one week before the “accident,” jumping a 21 foot gap on my downhill bike.

Opening day at Valmont was a big affair. Hundreds of people were there, and thankfully, so were the paramedics.

Valmont is a “big boy” freeride style park with wooden and dirt jumps nearly 10 feet tall, so the chances of getting hurt are pretty high. But the chances of having fun are even higher.

I got there early that morning and was riding all the lines, which range from Small to Large, by mid-morning.

My first run on one of the XL lines was also my last.

Having hit some big jumps and feeling comfortable, I worked over to an XL line that had a good sized drop with a 10 foot gap that then ran into another jump with two gaps.

As I came off the first drop, I was cruising with some serious speed. So much so, that I felt I was going to overshoot the next gap and fly into the face of the next jump.

I started to scrub speed as I approached the gap and then as I left the lip of the jump, I “Bubba Scrubbed” the lip to avoid going too far. Unfortunately, I misjudged my speed, came up short and landed head first onto the wooden jump.

This is the drop I went off just before the gap where I crashed.

I’ve wrecked HARD literally hundreds of times on my mountain bikes over the past 20 years of riding. This one was nothing spectacular.

As I gathered myself off the ground, I did my usual “inventory check” – toes still work, legs still work, arms are good, SHIT, I broke my hand…. I could see a huge lump through the glove on my left hand and immediately knew it was broken.

This was a major bummer because I was supposed to be going to Whistler Canada in two weeks. Whistler is like mountain biking nirvana, and I was devastated knowing that I might not be able to ride.

As I stood there lamenting over my broken pinky bone, the paramedics had arrived and were trying to get me to sit down and started asking a bunch of annoying questions.

“What day is it? Do you know where you are? What’s your name?”

“I’m at Valmont, and it’s opening day, man! Look, I broke my hand and may not be able to go to Whistler now!”

The picture I posted of my hand from the back of the ambulance.

For some reason, the paramedics didn’t seem to care much about my hand and kept asking me the same annoying questions over and over. After about 5 minutes of this, I started to realize that I was having a more difficult time focusing on what they were saying, and that caused me a little alarm.

I’ve been injured countless times over the years, so dealing with “mental check” questions is nothing new. But once I started “zoning out” a bit, I thought I better take some precautions.

So, I let the paramedics know I knew what they were doing but that I was having a harder time focusing on their questions and that I felt I “had rung my bell pretty good.”

My helmet was cracked, but I had broken three helmets over the past year and was little worse for the wear, so I didn’t give it much thought. I told the paramedics that I needed to go sit for a while. They wanted to get the stretcher and carry me down, but I insisted on walking.

“I’m no pussy, I can walk,” I told them.

As I walked down the side of the hill to the ambulance with a paramedic holding each of my arms, I was still really concerned about my left hand. Apart from not being able to go to Whistler in a couple weeks, I was STILL a golfer and instructor and the left hand is kind of important for controlling the club face!

So, as I sat in the ambulance waiting on my wife to bring the car around to take me to the hospital, I took a picture of my hand and posted it on Facebook to let my mountain biking buddies know what had happened.

Immediately, they started calling my wife, asking for details on the accident. She was in a panic. She’s seen me crash a LOT, but never seen me not just bounce back up and keep riding.

She tells my friends I’m sitting in the ambulance and that the paramedics are going to take me to the hospital. At this point, I’m still convinced I’m fine and my wife can take me as it’s only a few miles away, and I didn’t want her to freak out as I’ve NEVER taken an ambulance ride for anything.

But once she arrived with the car to pick me up, the paramedics had her convinced that I needed to be strapped down to a stretcher and put in a neck collar immediately and that they needed to drive me to the hospital.

“It’s no big deal, I just broke my hand and my head’s a little woozy,” I told them.

They weren’t buying it, and I could see the look on my wife’s face that I was going to lose this battle, so I let them strap me down and take me in the ambulance.

For the record, the ride in my wife’s X5 would have been much less painful. Do they not put suspension in those things?

From there, things went downhill – and not the fun kind of downhill.

Back to that poor bastard in bed 19…

I spent about 3 hours in the ER having X-Rays, CT scans, MRI’s, the works. After we overheard the ER doc say that I had broken my neck, he came into the room and told me that they needed to take me to ICU and keep me overnight.

My wife, who had just returned from puking in the bushes outside after hearing the bad news, looked terrified when he said ICU. So, I told her it’s no big deal, and I’m sure they do it for everyone just as a precaution, don’t worry about it. After all, my track record had proven that I was invincible, and I could handle just about any injury; sort of like Wolverine from X-Men.

The next morning I awoke to my “neuro consult”; some short, young looking dude in jeans and cowboy boots named Dr. Alex Mason. He told me I had broken C1 in five places, not three, and that I had two options:

  1. I could wear a halo for 3 months due to the nature and instability of my fracture and possibly still need surgery at the end of the three months, or
  2. I could do a C1-C2 fusion surgery now.

After consulting with good friend Dr. Brian McKeon, the team doctor for the Boston Celtics and member of the Rotary Swing Golf Medical Advisory Panel, we opted for surgery now.

At 6 am the next morning, I was wheeled into the OR to have 4 bolts and two titanium rods placed in my neck. I figured it would make me even more indestructible having some titanium bits, but there was one part that wasn’t completely clear to me when we were making the decision to have surgery – would I be able to play golf again?

To be honest, I was much more concerned as to when I could get back on my mountain bike as I was still burnt out on golf, but looking back a year later, this one moment was going to have a dramatic impact on the rest of my life that I didn’t realize until long after.

You see, the C1-C2 joint is where you get 50-60% of your rotation for your head, and they were about to bolt these two vertebrae together – permanently. I was clearly too high on morphine or whatever they were giving me at the time to realize that I was going to have a damn hard time hitting a golf ball if I could only turn my head half way.

How the hell would I even see the ball at the top of my swing? Spoiler alert – I wouldn’t.

Apparently, I wasn’t as invincible as I had thought because I bled out twice on the operating room table, requiring them to stop the surgery and give me more than two liters of blood to keep me alive.

Given that I could’ve died from the crash itself, as a large piece of broken vertebrae was perilously close to my spinal cord, and I stubbornly insisted on walking down the hill to the ambulance, and that I had now bled out twice from the trauma, you’d think things couldn’t get much worse.

You’d be wrong.

My neck after the surgery
My neck after the surgery. Don’t worry, it’s worse than it looks!

Once I was stabilized and the surgery completed, they told my wife that we’d be able to go home in a couple days, and all would be well.

Not only did I not go home, I spent the next 9 days in the ICU with a 102+ fever.

Pulmonologists, cardiologists, infectious disease specialists. They all had their hands at trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

After 9 days, my fever finally broke and I was transferred to a regular room on the neuro floor. One of the doctors decided that I had suffered a blood clot but passed it, but didn’t think I would survive the “next one.” He suggested that my wife call any family that may want to see me in case I didn’t make it.

Strike four.

After 3 days in the ICU, the nationwide mortality rate goes up exponentially, statistically speaking. I had just survived 9 days and four near death experiences. I was ready to get the f#*k out of this place.

But I wasn’t done with my problems yet. I couldn’t swallow.

There was so much trauma and swelling that I literally couldn’t swallow any food, so they had to feed me through something called a “PICC line.” Basically, they put a tube into a vein in my chest to get nutrients directly into my blood stream.

After not being able to eat anything for a couple days, I was getting desperate to get some semblance of food in my mouth. I started bribing the orderlies to sneak me a popsicle. I offered one guy a thousand dollars if he could get me a root beer flavored popsicle – I wasn’t kidding.

Eventually, after 12 days in the hospital, I was sent home – and that’s where this story really begins.

You see, I’ve had two more surgeries since this one, but we’ll get back to those soon enough.

Now you have a brief little history of what has provoked this re-dedication to the one sport that has always tugged at my heart strings in a little different way than anything else.

Golf is addicting. Maddening. Enlightening.

But more importantly, golf is my life.

It always has been since I first picked up a club at 14 years of age. And it took this near death x4 experience for me to realize it.

Above is a video clip of my swing before the accident while I was the Instructor at Castle Pines Golf Club.

Ever since I first picked up a golf club, I’ve literally been obsessed with the mechanics of the swing. I’ve always been that person that HAD to understand HOW something worked.

I’m one of the most skeptical people you’ll ever meet, so someone telling me to do something with my golf swing “just because that’s the way it works” is far from being a satisfactory answer for me.

This compulsion to understand the HOW and WHY of how things worked is exactly what led to the development of the Rotary Swing Tour (RST) golf swing system – a swing based 100% on science, research and fact and nothing more, nothing less.

But what does that have to do with me breaking my neck? It’s this research into the biomechanics of the swing that has actually allowed me to return to golf and even play competitively again – pain free.

RST has been my life’s work and is my gift to the golf world.

My work has lead to thousands of golfers being able to hit the ball like they never dreamed, and do so effortlessly and devoid of pain because I used the help of Ph. D. Biomechanists from the US Olympics Committee and orthopedic surgeons from around the US to help me develop my swing system.

Anything I’ve ever had a question on regarding how the swing should be taught, I would ask them and get a medical reason for why it should or shouldn’t be done this way to prevent injury or pain.

Which has led me back to my own swing. A swing that has been admired by thousands but now must evolve once again.

If I’m ever to play golf again at a high level, I MUST follow the RST program exactly as I’ve laid it out, or I simply won’t be able to play. My injuries (we’ve only scratched the surface on those) are crippling, and I’m only 36 years old.

But that’s why my story is so important, that’s why I’m sharing it with the world for the first time.

My story is YOUR story.

No, maybe you didn’t break your neck, but if you’re like most golfers, you hurt after golf. You have aches and pains that keep you from fully enjoying the game that you love, that we all love.

And the truth of the matter is that it shouldn’t hurt! Golf is not a contact sport!

I’ve helped thousands of golfers over my 17 years of teaching completely rid themselves of golf-swing-related pain by teaching them the RST swing mechanics, and now it’s my turn to benefit from my research.

“But wait!” you might be thinking. “You founded RST; you developed it; don’t you already swing RST?”

Yes and no.

You see, I had some things in my swing that I used to squeak out a little more power here and there, like excessively fast body rotation (think Tiger Woods’ fast hips), that are simply not an option for me anymore.

My neck structure is permanently damaged, already arthritic, and the biomechanics of my spine are permanently changed. To make matters worse, I suffered nerve damage in the accident and lost 90% of the muscle mass of my infraspinatus, supraspinatus and teres minor on the left side.

To make a long story short, I have very limited use of my left arm in the way that it is commonly taught to use it in the golf swing. Bonus – using RST, I don’t need it!

If you’ll also remember, I severely broke the 5th metacarpal in my left hand, making it nearly impossible for me to control the club face with my left hand, as it has the strength of a two year old child.

A lot of people would pack it in, call it a day, say they’ve had a good run and pick up fishing. God knows that’s the direction my wife is pushing me in. But I hate fishing.

I NEED the challenge and competition that sports bring, and since it’s unsafe for me to mountain bike, snowboard, or do anything else I loved to do, I’m rededicating my life to playing golf at a high level.

Extra hardware in my neck. If I can play with this stuff in my neck, I can help you play with your injury!

Since my accident, I’ve played 7 rounds of golf.

My first round back was 8 months after my accident, in February 2012. I shot 81.

My longest drive was 240 yards, and I averaged about 230 off the tee. I used to hit it 340 yards off the tee with a drive of 408 yards as my longest ever!

Hitting it like this was a shocker, but I realized instantly that I missed this stupid f*%king game.

My next three rounds each got better. My fifth round of golf was the Colorado State Open Qualifier – LOL.

Yep, my fifth round of golf I decided to try and qualify for a professional golf tournament. Hey, if it’s not clear that my decision making process skills may be somewhat lacking at times, then you should re-read this article from the beginning.

Setting myself up for failure, I shot 75 with an eagle on a par 5 on the second hole in July of 2012 in the qualifier.  I finished 28th out of 85 and missed qualifying by three strokes.

Normally, I’d have been pissed, but instead, I had a sense of peace about this round. The qualifier was just over a year since my accident, and I had only played 4 rounds of golf over the past 13 months.

I had survived a terrible accident, hadn’t practiced hardly at all and was back playing golf at a professional level PAIN FREE.

Now, I’m not proud of a 75, but given the circumstances, it could’ve been a lot worse.

I couldn’t see the ball at the top of my swing, and I had lost 25 pounds of muscle since my accident. But after all this I was relatively competitive, and my neck didn’t bother me one bit.

Now, it’s hard for me to explain to you what it’s like to play golf after breaking your neck and not seeing the ball at the top of your backswing, but let me assure that it adds significant challenge to an already difficult game.

But I had overcome it, and if I could, so could anyone else. My RST swing mechanics allowed me to return to golf and play at a reasonable level, and they can do the same for you NO MATTER your injury or ailment.

There is NO WAY I would’ve been able to play golf with the way most golf instructors teach the swing today. The amount of aggressive body rotation puts a tremendous amount of shear force on the spine, and as you can imagine, that’s simply not an option for someone with a severe spine injury.

But maybe you don’t have an injury, just a sore back, or sore neck after a round of golf. I have neither.

In fact, I have no soreness whatsoever, and trust me, my body’s wrecked.

In fact, I’m going in for my FOURTH spine surgery in a year on Wednesday, September 5th, 2012. Apart from the problems with my neck, I was told at 31 years old that I needed to have my left hip replaced by an orthopedic surgeon.

Golf KILLED my hip to the point that I thought about quitting. Instead, I started delving into the biomechanics of the golf swing, and RST was born.

Today, I have no hip pain after golf and that doctor can shove it. My left hip feels just fine.

Quinton spine surgery  #3
Quinton spine surgery #3. This one was just 2 weeks ago, and I’m already going in for another one!

RST swing mechanics have saved my game and my body, and they can save yours. They’ve saved thousands of golfers’ bodies already.

My golf instruction website,, has about 40,000 members, golfers like you and me, who don’t want to be sore after a round of golf anymore. Golfers who believe the golf swing should be effortless and enjoyable and should NEVER cause you any pain or soreness.

Well, I’m living proof that the RST golf swing is a completely safe and pain free, powerful way to swing the golf club, and I’m going to continue to prove it so that my story can help save the bodies of thousands more.

Over the coming months, I’m going to continue to blog about my return to golf.

I’ll talk in more detail about my injuries and how RST has allowed me to overcome every single one (did I mention my left shoulder has been dislocated more than 30 times?) and play completely pain free golf and still hit the ball 300 yards off the tee as I’ve been doing right up until this last surgery two weeks ago.

I’d still be playing right now if I didn’t have 13 staples in my neck.

I’m going to show you my swing as it looks today, and I’ll talk about the changes I’ve had to make because of my injuries so that they may help you with your swing and any injuries you may have suffered.

Join me in this journey. I don’t know where it will end.

Perhaps I’ll go back to playing some professional tournaments with a little encouragement from you guys.

Perhaps I’ll just enjoy the game and win my club championship again.

RST has given my body and mind a new lease on life, so I can enjoy the game we all love once again.

But more importantly, what will RST do for YOU and your body? What’s your story going to be?

I have literally thousands of testimonials on the website from golfers whose games have been transformed by RST.

Will you be next? There’s only one way to find out…

If you’ve got golf-swing-related pain, want to prevent golf-swing-related injuries in the future or just want to learn more about RST, visit my site at and get a FREE video membership to learn the basics of RST online and see what a biomechanically ideal swing can feel like.

Please note, if you’d like to discuss this blog, DON’T ask Christina questions over the phone. That is my wife, and she’s had to deal with this enough. You can discuss this post on our Facebook page here:

Where in the world is CQ?

Hey guys, summer is sadly on the other side of the hill now for most of you as we near mid-August and I’ve been getting a lot of emails about what the heck I’m doing this summer and where’s the Christina Project? Don’t worry, it will be up and running soon, but you can blame the delay on me. I decided to spend my summer doing things I missed, hiking, climbing, biking, snowboarding, etc. in the mountains of Colorado. It’s been a major refresher for me and allowed me to charge my batteries for a very busy upcoming winter as we plan to do more clinics than we ever have as demand has exceeded the number of clinics I’ve done in the past.

With regards to demand, I want to personally thank you, the members, for referring so many of your friends to the Rotary Swing. In the past year, the website membership has more than doubled and demand for the Rotary Swing Tour swing model both online and in person lessons and clinics has been incredible, so thanks!

This winter will be a big one for those following RST as we continue to unveil more of the research we’ve done with TaylorMade Performance Labs and do new research to show you exactly how to build the safest and most efficient golf swing possible. But not before I sneak in one more mountain bike race! For those who have asked, that’s primarily what I have been doing this summer. I got my first downhill mountain bike 7 weeks ago and won my first downhill race today at Keystone. Obviously, to get a win after riding for only 7 weeks means that I’ve been riding – A LOT! And that’s where most of my time has gone. I decided that I wanted to do this, fell in love with it and am riding 3-4 days per week in the mountains. Here’s a pic of me on the podium from my race today (PS if you want to see video of me riding, go here: mountain bike videos):

Chuck Quinton 1st Place
Chuck Quinton 1st Place

Taking a break from golf has been very healthy for me and I look forward to coming back to Florida in October and starting up full swing again!

PS Tiger, you might consider a break too!

FlightScope Prime – Not Just for Driver Fittings Anymore

FlightScope has come a long way in the development of their launch monitor that we use here for our fittings at the Rotary Swing Golf Academy. Now, it has become an invaluable instruction tool that I am currently using to optimize my swing for ideal launch conditions here in Colorado where I spend the summer. No longer are you guessing when your path or plane is optimal or worse yet, working on something that’s not broken in your swing. For instance, as you’ll see, with my driver my path tends to be too far in to out. My tendency is to hit a push draw and miss with a big block and the occasional shot that looks like a dead pull – which would indicate an out to in path with the naked eye. However, using the new wireless FlightScope Prime today at the range, never once was my path out to in, even though I hit a few shots that would easily fool you into thinking that I did. These shots started just left of my line and drew further to the left. The reality is that this was all due to clubface angle at impact.

Let’s take a closer look at this data and see just how incredibly efficient working on your swing can be using the FlightScope Prime.

Chuck Quinton Driver and Swing Parameters
Chuck Quinton Driver and Swing Parameters
Starting in the top left corner, we can see that my clubface angle was 4.4 closed in relation to my swing path which was 3.9* in to out at impact. However, you can see that this created a ball that started out at 0.0*, or dead on my intended target line. The next box over to the right shows the Horizontal swing plane at the bottom of my swing arc of 5.3* in to out. In other words, at the moment my club is traveling level to the ground, I’m swinging in to out 5.3*. This is something that I’m working hard to correct to get closer to 0 degrees, but right now I average 6.6*.

In the bottom left box, we can see Dynamic Loft – or the effective loft you had at impact due to clubface loft, shaft flexing and where you strike the ball on the face. The dynamic loft of 11.9* is due to my using an 8.5* Nakashima Htec 460 head with the Matrix TP6HD XX flex shaft. My path is slightly positive at 2.1* which is quite ideal for me, however my launch angle on this particular shot was 9.2*, or LESS  than the dynamic loft. This is due to the ball compressing on the face (these shots were with Callaway range balls) as well as a matter I’ll discuss in the next section. I have seen that premium balls tend to launch even lower than this in relation to the Dynamic Loft due to the fact that they tend to compress more.

Lastly is the Vertical Swing Plane. This is the angle of the Swing Plane at impact. This is too upright for me and is creating the excessive in to out path. By bringing this down closer to 50* or less will allow me to bring my path closer to 0. Also in this box are the total spin numbers of 3266 rpms and the Ball Spin Axis of positive 4.6*. This high spin rate and low launch angle makes it very clear what happened here – I hit this ball low on the face. The Ball Spin Axis of 4.6 degrees means that this ball was spinning on axis tilted to the right that created the slight fade that I hit on this shot. Now, if you’ve been following along closely, you should be wondering how on earth did a ball that was hit with a 4.4* shut face on an into out path start on line and this FADE??? Conventional wisdom would say that this should be a pull draw and you’d be correct in assuming that. However, we’ve failed to consider one last ultra vital component that will now glue all the pieces of the puzzle together for this complex set of parameters – where was the ball struck on the face?

That answer is that this shot was struck on the heel – and low on the heel. You see, according to David Nel, one of the experts at FlightScope, missing the sweetspot on the driver by as little as 1/2″ inch can tilt the Spin Axis as much as 20* creating a shot that will go wildly off line even if the path and face angle are dead square!!! Sort of makes you wonder how we ever hit the ball straight?

Needless to say, this type of information is simply incredibly useful not just for fitting you in the best driver we can, but also for helping build your swing into an efficient ball striking machine! For more information on FlightScope Prime, visit and for information about being fitted by me at the RSGA, visit here for FlightScope Launch Monitor fittings.

TRUTHS About Golf Instruction YouTube Series a Big Hit!

With more than 2,000 views in less than a week, the series about the TRUTHS in golf instruction has become an instant hit. Yesterday, we published parts 4 and 5. These short segments cover how the brain learns new movement patterns and are the key to understanding why your golf swing hasn’t improved, no matter how many lessons you’ve taken. The three points to take away are:

A: You’ve probably not been told the correct information about the golf swing.
B: It wasn’t communicated to you the way your brain actually learns.
C: Learning is a biologoical process that requires a specific pathway.

Watch Part 5 now:

Great Swing! Lesson Learned – Mushin Still The Way

I hear “Great looking swing!” quite a lot. I’ve worked hard on it and know all the hours it’s taken and the literal sweat and grime it’s taken to build what I have. I’m proud of that work, it’s sort of a badge of honor. My swing has never been in better positions nor have I had this much control over my ball with so little effort. So, when I was invited to play the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, FL this weekend, I was ready to go out there and throw down a low number.

I’ve always stuggled a lot on courses I play for the first time, especially ones that are visually intimidating. As Jack Nicklaus’ home course, to say this is visually intimidating would be an understatement. Worse yet, it actually IS very hard. The greens are nuts really and rock hard. Want to know how hard? On a par 3 I hit a 7 iron cut into the wind that landed 3 inches from the pin – and ended up 30 feet away. The slope, speed and firmness of these things is something I’ve not seen in a while playing Sugarloaf Mountain this winter.

So, without seeing and know my landing areas, I was immediately intimidated and noticed myself start to tense up. The fairways looked like bowling alleys and all of a sudden, I literally felt like I didn’t know how to swing the club anymore. Sound familiar to anyone yet? It was like I was starting to play golf all over again, I had no idea what to do. Luckily, I recognized this pressure and tried to regain my focus, which worked only about 1/3 the time because what my eyes saw over ruled what my brain was thinking.

Frustrated at the end of the day, I thought about the round on the long, shamed drive back to Orlando. When I got back, I decided to go and hit balls on the range and see what had gone wrong with my swing. My first shot missed the flag by a foot, the second by 4 feet. Grabbed a 6 iron, missed by 2 yards. Grabbed the driver, striped down the middle. Every shot was perfect. My wife came with me to see what the heck was going on, her reply was simple and to the point, “It’s all in your head.” She’s been down this road with me WAY too many times.

So, we started working on some mental exercises and that helped for a while, and then I got so focused on the exercises that I lost focus on my swing and then started spraying the ball. Then, she gave me an imaginary fairway to hit my driver down that was between two flags about 12 yards apart. I looked at her and said to myself, “That’s impossible, it’s stupid, no fairway on the planet is that small, it’s too hard.” Hmmm, that’s interesting. All this internal dialgoue was something new for me, now we’re getting somewhere.

Before we started the exercises, I was striping my driver exactly where I was aiming, but, put this imaginary “gate” in front of me to hit through and I’m totally tensed up and have this “brain chatter” going on. I know I can hit the ball through there, but it was the idea of focusing on hitting it through there that made it impossible. Then I put two and two together and all my mental game work started coming back to me. Focusing so long on my swing mechanics had taken me out of remembering how to take it out the course. I’d become a solid range player, but they don’t count your strokes out there. It was focusing on the result rather than the process that was detrimental.

Many mental coaches advocate focusing on the target rather than the movement. I’ve done both and have sort of sat on the fence with this one. After today, I feel that it’s time to make the decision and go one way or the other. While I believe that both methodologies have validity and their place depending on the golfer, the golf shot is simply the result of me making the correct movements. The results completely take care of themselves when I move the way I want and I have no control over where the ball ends up. Instead, I want to be concerned with the PROCESS as that is in the moment, the result is in the future.

Focusing on the process of the swing is the only thing I truly have control over and it is the only thing that is happening at that very moment that I can exert influence over. It also pulls the mind “back inside” rather than focusing on the external and peripheral, which are all secondary; the movement is primary. So, after I’ve aimed myself to my target, the target is no longer going to be of consequence to me, I’m going to focus on the process and be “in the moment” and no longer will other people’s shots or the golf course dictate how I feel or think on each shot. If I’m not concerned with the result of the shot, what difference does it make if there is a bunker, or water or OB on that hole? It’s hard to be intimidated by an external influence when you are focused on the interal process. The results should take care of themselves. And that’s what Mushin Golf is all about.

6 Months and Counting…

It’s been a little over 6 months since I embarked on changing my golf swing to the Rotary Swing Tour model based on Anatomical Absolutes. It’s been an incredibly exciting, challenging, fun and frustrating experience all rolled into one. The exciting part has been seeing my swing in positions that I’ve never seen before and understanding the exact muscles and feelings that create these movements. It’s been challenging as I’ve learned there are no shortcuts to your brain learning to do something new, 3-5k reps is mandatory. That’s the most frustrating part, having to drill something over and over and over because the brain learns no other way.

At this point, I’m well on my way and am glad I’ve made the journey. I still continue to work on things and put in my reps daily and wanted to put together a little list of my drills I’m doing at the moment.

  1. Right arm in front of my chest to the top.
    This has been a challenging one for me. I have to feel that my left arm never leaves my chest by moving the correct muscles in my back to rotate my torso. My humerus has to rotate clockwise as it I go back to keep my elbow from flying away from my body.I do this 100 times each day so it will take me a minimum of 1 month to master the movement.
  2. Weight Shift – stabilizing left side.
    Because of the hip injuries I’ve had from two car accidents, this one is a multi-faceted approach. I still require therapy on my hip which I’m going to twice a week right now to loosen up the connective tissue that’s been bound up for years. The work yesterday was so great I felt an inch taller! My left hip pops in my backswing a lot (it’s gross, you can hear it) and it’s because the femur is pulled up against the hip socket and has no room. I’m doing some specific yoga poses and stretches twice a day to help remove these restrictions as part of working on my weight transfer and stabilizing as I come down into impact.Yoga and stretches 2X per day and weight transfer drills (see Weight Shift Part 3 Video here) 100 times per day.

These are two of the biggest things in my golf swing to fix and I’m quite excited about the possibilities after these two changes are made. I have to work hard as I want to be in great playing shape by the time I get to Castle Pines at the end of May, so I’ve got some great motivation!

Rotary Swing Backswing Enhancements

Continuing to work on the evolution of refining the swing into the simplest set of moving parts on the planet. Here is the swing from my book “The Rotary Swing” on the left and the swing on the right is after working on the changes with the new 2.0 model. 

It’s clear to see that I’ve not “pushed” from the left on the right sided picture and my hands have stayed in front of my chest just as they did at address. This means that I’ll have to do less work on the downswing to get them back in front of my at impact. The next sequence of photos is at the top of the backswing, or the completion of “Move 2”.

These changes have limited the arm swing significantly making the overall swing much easier to repeat, stay tuned for more!

Yesterday, it happened, the perfect golf shot…

Ok, I’ve hit a lot of “perfect” golf shots in my life, but this one was different. I’ve been working hard on making changes to my swing. I’ve changed my…. This is going to be a long list…

  1. My setup
  2. My grip
  3. My posture
  4. My knee flex
  5. My weight distribution
  6. My weight shift
  7. My takeaway
  8. My backswing
  9. My top of the swing
  10. My downswing
  11. My impact
  12. My release

This could go on for a while! As you can imagine, playing through this many changes in only 2 months is going to create some inconsistencies. I’ve shot between 68 and 78 and hit perfect shots that have been better than I’ve ever hit before and several slices that would have given Tiger Woods a run for his money. But yesterday, something clicked…

I recall the shot Tiger hit at Bayhill on Sunday on the 18th in 2008 to set up his winning putt. A 5 iron from only 164 yards that he called his best shot of the week. Mine was an 8 iron up the hill, slightly downwind and 154 yards to the flag. In that instant, everything that I have been working so hard on clicked. The backswing happened so fast that I was already transitioning back to the ball effortlessly with no conscious thought. The ball came off low and flew perfectly flat and lower than usual. My divot was perfectly on line with perfectly square edges from front to back and side to side.

It was the first swing in two months that I allowed myself to make at full speed with no conscious thought. No guiding things going back and no time for thoughts coming down. It was a perfect shot and a perfect swing that created the perfect ball flight that I lay awake at night and dream about. The shot ended up 10 feet from the hole, far from being a perfect result, but I couldn’t have cared less. Two months of hard work seems like a small price to pay to hit shots like that. While I didn’t another “perfect” one like that the rest of the round, I did hit several great shots and that’s all the motivation I need to keep up the hard work.

Rotary Swing 1.0 vs Rotary Swing 2.0 – Some Differences

To explain all the differences would take a while, so I’m just going to point out a few here that can be seen to help you guys moving along while we prepare to shoot the DVD. The images on the right are from 2005 and the images on the left are from today.

At address, it’s pretty easy to see that my setup has improved significantly. I’m biomechanically better connected to my core at address with my shoulder blades (don’t ask, covered in the DVD!) and my legs are not “knock knee’d” to provide more stability and allow me to rotate against my lower body. I’m also set up with the ball more up in my stance and my head more behind the ball.

At the top of the swing, I’m clearly more “torque’d” up at the top. I no longer allow my hips to rotate back with my upper body, I coil against my lower body and this helps to control the length of my backswing, amongst other things. I’m much more stable here and feel far more powerful.

Needless to say, I have much more control over my ball flight now! My impact position has changed a lot. The shot on the right was a little steep so I was digging a trench, but that just helps illustrate the point. My divots are much shallower now, again, giving me a flatter trajectory and more control over the spin. Before, I was at the mercy of how clean my strike was.

Moral of the story: your golf swing is a journey and you can make tremendous progress, but be patient and enjoy the ride. It lasts a lifetime and I still feel like I improve almost everyday!

Finally played golf today…

I’ve been working hard on the changes and been busy teaching, so it was nice today to get out and actually play golf. Yesterday, I was doing the first day of a mini 2 day clinic for a couple of students and in the afternoon we went out and played 9 holes. This was the first time that I’ve played with someone since embarking on all these changes, previously I’ve just played on my own and practiced, so there’s a bit more pressure (if you let there be!) than when nobody’s watching. What would happen in the real world?

To say the least, I was very pleased! I hit the ball as well as I ever have, in all honesty. The first 6 holes I hit every fairway and every green and did so authoritatively. Right down the middle with all my tee shots, perfect control over my ball flight, unbelievably flat trajectory with the longer clubs and I hit the irons relatively close. I almost made a hole in one on the 5th hole par three from 160 with an 8 iron that stopped a foot from the hole. I had two loose tee balls that found the rough, but that was it and I still hit the green from there anyway. In fact, I didn’t miss a green and only missed two fairways. It was only 9 holes of focused play, but it was a VERY solid 9 holes and gave me a lot of reinforcement in the changes I’m making.

Made Progress with the Driver

It’s far from where I want to be, but, it’s progress. These swings were taken about an hour a part. The photos on the left are the baseline swing (embarrassingly horrible) are the baseline swings and the swings on the right are after some video work. I post the baseline swing because it is SOOO bad that it should offer some encouragement that quick progress can be made by ANYONE when you’re working on the right things. Let’s take a look.

At address, I’ve been really setting up behind the ball too much in an effort to get a solid positive angle of attack. But it got a little sloppy and I started hitting the ball too high and slipped into having too much weight on my back foot at address. I now feel that my left leg is slightly more vertical and the ball is slightly back in my stance (ignore the tee height, I was tired of breaking plastic tees so I just left it on the little rubber peg). There is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to how high to launch the ball with the driver. As a rule of thumb, the faster the clubhead speed, the lower launch angle necessary to achieve maximium distance.

At the top of my backswing, I’ve turned into John Daly. This swing on the right is a slower swing and I’m thinking about coiling going back and am clearly overdoing it. This is super common when working on your swing, certain other things that may have been good before get a little loose because your swing is slower and your transition later, etc. I’m not worried about this and I’ve actually still managed to get into a much better position on the right as I’m not nearly as far on my right leg. This was, again, a result of really trying to launch the ball high – Mission Accomplished! I can now back it down and be more coiled at the top as I am here on the right and now really use my left glute to get set onto my left foot.

This is just flat out embarrassing. I’ve started the downswing with my arms (maybe I should read that golf instruction book, “The Rotary Swing”) and I’ve completely failed to set my weight onto my left side. Because of this, I’m just “spinning out”, more or less, right from the top and throwing the club away. You can clearly see that I have less lag on the left compared to the swing on the right. On the better swing, I’m more set onto my left side and my arms and wrists are very relaxed. My swing thought here was to “squat” onto my left side and feel my left glute rather than just spin out from the top.  The “bump” onto the left side I describe in the book is the same thing.

The swing on the left is ugly, but after an hour of work, I got it more straightened out, so I consider this good progress. I post this to show that:

a) everyone slips into bad and even terrible habits without realizing it
b) progress can be made quickly when you work on the correct things
c) progress still took an hour working exclusively on this one thing! (Keep this mind you are trying to change something in your swing next time!)

Wow, is that really me on the left? Just awful, I’ve lost a ton of lag and my left leg looks like it’s broken. Good on the right though, much better use of my hips to bring the club down and set on to my left side and I’m maintaining lag here still. The shaft is still stressed, more evidence that I’m not “throwing the club away” as the grip of the club is pointing vertical is still.

That guy on the left is a total hack.

More posted up at impact, it’s obviously creating a much lower launch.

In the last sequence, I have a much better release, more of a crossover release that I’m working towards. Below is a video of the swing on the right from today. As I’m working on things, these swings are a bit slow, this was 111 mph.

112 mph 8 Iron – Breaking the Speed Limit

My “300 Workouts” have left me with a lot of confidence that while making a controlled swing I can get into many of the positions I want, but the problem is that it’s a controlled swing. By controlled, I mean that when I practice and film I’m often swinging between 60% and 70% of full speed so that I can focus on what I’m trying to accomplish. When doing this, it’s easy to get caught up in a rut of being too mechanical and lose a ton of clubhead speed in the process. That’s why it’s important to balance out slow, controlled training for building muscle memory with full on, all out, speed training.

I’ve done about 1,000 slow motion reps and that’s enough to start to slow things down in a hurry, so today I decided to balance it out with some 100% swings to remind my muscles and my brain how to move fast. It’s also interesting to check your progress with your changes to see if they are adding clubhead speed and if you’re making the right changes, they should add speed or atleast maintain what you have. I decided to test my speed with an 8 iron since that was the club I was working with all day and I don’t like swinging the driver in doors. My average “full speed” on the course swing with an 8 iron is around 95 mph, and I average more around 90 on a stock shot. I’ve never really tried to go up to 100% until today, so I don’t have a great baseline for this, but I do know that 3 weeks ago I was swinging my DRIVER the same speed I was with my 8 iron today!

The first swing I took was 105 mph. I thought that seemed high and sometimes the Swing Speed Radar can catch the ball as well, so I tried again, but moved the ball a little further forward to ensure an accurate reading and went all out. When it said 112 mph, I was shocked! As I mentioned in my earlier post, I’m really working on powering my golf swing with the correct big muscles of my backside and in the perfect sequence. It’s obviously working because I’ve never swung such a short club that fast. I’m posting the video of the swing below.

My swing is a bit all over the place here, but that’s fine, mechanics are going to break down when going all out and working on swing changes, but I wanted to see progress and to make sure I still had speed! I’ll give you a little tip here, what I was specifically working on in this swing was speeding up my backswing to go as fast as I could, not actually trying to make my downswing as fast as I could. The downswing speed was instinctive and not me actually trying to swing that fast through impact. Lastly, my finish is completely relaxed and balanced, something I could never have done before the RS2.0 changes while swinging this fast.

Hindsight is 20/20 in Golf

Today, I’m working on another view after Alison requested a swing of mine from this angle. This is a great angle to see just how the key muscles of the backside to the Rotary Swing 2.0 are working. I have some really bad habits in my golf swing that I’m learning to break with Alison’s Motion Memory training and am still making my 300 hundred swings per day. But, I’ve started adding some speed to what I’m doing and I’m looking at my swing from more than just face on now.

In the swing below taken from the rear, you can clearly see how my lower body is not only braced going back, but also I’m using my left side more actively to clear out. My bad habit is to “push” as Alison calls it with the right side and over power my left. This causes numerous problems, one in particular is to get your head and body too far out in front of the ball and come too far from the inside. Here, I’m staying back better and using my left side better.

I’m most pleased with my transition here as I’m working to get it to happen earlier in my backswing and that work is beginning to show. If you step through frame by frame by dragging the slider (hit play first and then pause it) you can see that I’m actively setting my weight to my left side and beginning to use my glutes and core muscles to unwind me from my backswing. This is a powerful and dynamic move that is the secret to power, and as you’ll see in my next post, I’m already starting to experience some stupid power with no effort.

Day 4 Progress Report – Golf Biomechanics and the Rotary Swing

Long day, I’m beat, but feel like I made great progess. After working on my swing with the camera for hours, I went to go hit some golf balls outside to see what was going on there. I hit it very straight, but not on the trajectory I’d like. It was a little floaty and not struck as solid, but you can’t expect anything different after such invasive surgery on a golf swing. I’d realistically expect to have ups and downs for the next month or so, but I’ll keep my playing light and just stay the course. It will be easier to stick with the changes when I’m not hung up on watching the ball flight, which makes this work perfect for you guys stuck up north in the cold. I promise we’ll have drills and videos coming up soon.

On a total positive note, I hit 126 mph twice today near the end of my range session. Again, I’m tired from a long day and my brain is pretty much “mush” right now, so I consider this great progress. My high on Monday was 123 mph I think and I only did that once, so this is a nice boost. My average was up a bit, right around 123, so that’s getting closer to my goal of 125 mph. This goal might be tough given how extensive the changes are, but I’ll keep trying. Overall, I consider today a great success and I learned a lot of new “feelings” in my swing that are heading me in the right direction.