Still working here guys. I gave Alison a call for a little guidance on something and she has helped jog my memory on some things. First of all, a good backswing is so torque’d up that it would be impossible to hold that position at the top, or even get there in slow motion. I had lost some of that torque and she gave me something to work on during my takeaway that, along with some extension going back that I felt I was lacking, created a much better position at the top.
The capture from the left is from today and the middle pic is from yesterday. Of course, on the far right that’s “Big Daddy”, or Tiger Woods. You might notice some similarities that were absent yesterday. I looked like a goober at the top of my swing yesterday, but knew I could fix it with some more time. Today’s position is much more torque’d up, in fact, I couldn’t even get to this position in slow motion, I am forced to “swing” to this position with momentum and couldn’t hold it if I wanted to. The more I alter my biomechanics, the more it seems that Tiger is the only person using his body to maximum efficiency. Is that really a surprise?
I’ve made some more progress from yesterday where I was actually pretty happy with the changes that showed up on film in such a short time. Today, I got even better results after my workout this morning. I notice that at certain levels of time, say after maybe every 60-80 swings I really catch on to something new and give it some focus as I continue. Here’s a screen capture from today on the left vs. yesterday on the right:
In this image, you can see I’ve gotten my wrist into a much better position. Doing the drill yesterday helped me get comfortable with a lot of things so that I could catch some more detailed things like this, but it came at a slight cost because I didn’t post on the left leg as well. That’s why it’s important for me to stick with the core drills for 3,000 reps without getting off on too far of a tangent because my body hasn’t “memorized” the work from the day before, it needs more repetition. So, after I stopped and looked at this for a minute I realized that I needed to keep focusing on rotation as well, but am still much happier with this position coming down into impact, it’s much more powerful with less effort.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the movie “300” but those guys were put through a grueling workout to get themselves into the phenomenal physical conditioning they were in to play the part of the Spartans. A couple men’s health magazines put together some workouts called the “300 Challenge”. I’ve kind of done the same thing, but for a very different purpose. Everyone has likely heard that it takes 3,000-5,000 repetitions to develop a habit. That’s a LOT of repetitions, and especially when it comes to learning movements in the golf swing. But, I’ve committed myself to making changes in my golf swing for longevity purposes and to enjoy pain free golf for years to come.
Many of you have watched Alison Thietje’s presentation videos on her website and there is a ton of great information on there, some of which is what I’m working on with my “300 Workout” I started today. In an effort to engrain some changes in to the biomechanics of my golf swing, I decided to do 300 slow motion golf swings in front of a mirror focusing on the changes that I’m making in my swing and this morning was the first “workout”. It was more challenging than I originally thought but incredibly insightful in the end and probably the most productive time I’ve ever spent working on my golf swing. Below I’ve chronicled this first workout so you can see what it was like.
9:30 am – Takes about 5 minutes to do 20 swings, the first 40 were sort of just feeling things out
9:47 am – By rep 60, I started feeling like my brain new what I what I was trying to do, things started clicking
9:54 am – By rep 80, I felt like I could really start to add speed to what I was doing
10:00 am – Rep 100 – Feeling very confident as my swing is looking and feeling like what I want it to
10:06 am – Rep 120 – Takeaway move really feeling good here, starting to focus on left side as well on downswing now.
10:13 am – Rep 140 – Noticing fatigue, arms and shoulders have never felt this soft and relaxed, really feeling left side pulling motion, starting to sweat, it’s a workout now, taking a 5 minute break to stretch and relax my brain.
10:21 am – Rep 160 – Do I even have arms and shoulders now? Club coming through effortlessly, completely core driven and club is ripping through w/ serious speed and zero effort as I’ve started to add a little more speed to my drills.
10:26 am – Rep 180 – Mixing fast and slow now, started getting a little sloppy and losing the feeling of using my core properly.
10:31 am – Rep 200 – Really feeling core now, shoulders super relaxed.
10:36 am – Rep 220 – Back to going super slow again, focusing on takeaway and left side on downswing. My setp feels very comfortable now.
10:41 am – Rep 240 – Tired, sweaty, taking a break. Wondering to myself how many people are actually going to do this? Hayes maybe…. 😉
10:47 am – Rep 260 – Starting to totally feel different muscles powering my downswing and complete separation from my shoulders and core.
10:53 am – Rep 280 – My golf swing feels like it’s from another planet. Completely controlled by the right and left side of my core, I don’t have arms, checking in the mirror to ensure they are still there.
11:00 am – Rep 300 – Don’t have arms but they sure are moving fast. Whew, I’m done!
It took an hour and a half to complete 300 swings like this, about the same time it takes to hit a large bucket of balls on the range, but this was way more productive in the long run. It’s certainly not a short term, quick fix, but in the end my joints are going to thank me – in fact, they already are!
I once watched Tiger Woods practicing at Isleworth here in Windermere where he lives and I saw him do the same takeaway drill for 45 minutes, non-stop, without ever hitting a ball. If you think about that, it’s amazing. He was intensely focused on a drill while a hole pile of brand new Nike One Platinum’s lay at his feet just begging to be hit. I never thought I could do just a drill for an hour and a half, but I just did and I learned a ton about the muscles that I want to actually fire in my downswing. I’m 10% of the way there!
To check my progress, I went downstairs immediately afterward and hit a few balls on film to see if anything stuck, here’s the sequence:
I’m very happy with a few things that I can already see as a result of my work this morning. One, I’m much happier with the coil and position of my left knee going back. I have a tedency to let it go back a bit far and get loose and sloppy. I’m extremely happy with my downswing progress, not perfect, but definite progress. My left leg is completely posted up on, not by using leg, using my core in the downswing! Because of this impact position, I’m getting a great release where the club is ripping through due to centrifugal force and nothing else.
Filming my swing helped me see what I need to focus on again tomorrow when I do another “300 Workout”, but I’m very pleased that swing has progressed already and can’t wait to see what happens when I hit 3,000 reps!
A lot more work poured into my swing today, I’m beat, mentally and physically. It’s tiring working so hard on changing a golf swing and rewards often come in only small doses. Today’s rewards were small, nice straight ball flight, decent speed and I’m getting closer to some positions that I wish to achieve, but I still have a long way to go.
In the sequence below from today, I’m still trying to get comfortable with my setup, which looks fairly poor here looking at my spine. The top of my swing has gotten loose and a little disconnected and I’m more rotated early in the downswing than I would like. Sheesh! I’m not sure I saw much that I like, except the ball flight was still good. I’m so focused on my balance at address and during my backswing that it’s tough to do the other things I want, but I’ll keep plugging away!
Is it too early in the race to make a prediction? Given how far out they start calling the President victory, I think this will be ok. After my work over the past couple days with Alison, my own work on the range and some more in the studio tonight, I have made a prediction in my average and peak driver clubhead speed today. I know, it seems a bit premature, but I am THAT confident in what I’m doing that I’m going to call the horse now.
Within 1 month
– Avg CHS will be up from 115 mph to 120 mph ( I did that one today already but want to maintain it)
– Peak CHS will go from a previous high of 129 mph to 131 mph
Within 2 months
-Avg CHS will go to 124 mph
– Peak CHS will reach 135 mph
Within 6 months
– Avg CHS will hover around 125 mph, possibly higher, up to 127 mph
– Peak will be 137 mph
Those are big numbers and fun to think about. It’s close to where I was last year when I could warm up at 124 mph and a “bad” slow swing was 118 mph. Using RS2.0 I’m training my muscles to fire in a different sequence and it will take time for my brain to learn what I’m trying to tell it to do, but I think these numbers are very achievable, so we will see!
Just for fun (and some subliminal motivation!), I plugged the numbers into OptimalFlight to see what 125 mph of clubhead speed with a solid strike and my current launch conditions would do.
318 yards of carry and 346 total yards with roll on average! I’ll take it. I may have to have Nakashima build me a 7.5 degree driver!
Last year when I did the “Bomb Your Driver” research with McChicken from the forum, I spent 3 months hitting nothing but drivers. By the end, we had discovered the perfect driver shafts, heads and launch conditions and I could regularly hit 330-340 yard bombs. After a while, I decided it would be helpful if I learned to hit an iron again, although I really wasn’t hitting anything longer than a wedge into the green most of the time! Anyway, during this process, my clubhead speed slipped – a lot. I went from my first driver “warm-up” swing of the day being 124-125 mph to 110-112 mph. I was still hitting it very solid and could work the ball, but it still hurts knowing I’m leaving that much left in the tank. Enter Rotary Swing 2.0…
When I was swinging in the 120’s, it was putting a lot of stress on my knee and hip. This would cause me to back it down or only be able to comfortably play a few days. Since making a setup change over the weekend, my first swing of the day today was 122 mph without me trying to get to 122 mph. I had hit 7 irons for about 2 hours before this, so I was already worn out to boot. My average CHS for the first four swings was 120 mph as shown in the video below and I felt like I had the same control as I did at 112 mph. I packed up my stuff right then and there and headed out to the course to play a few quick holes, the results spoke for themselves. On the 3rd hole at Sugarloaf Mountain, a 458 yard par 4, I hit a driver, 9 iron to a middle pin from the back of the tee box, this was in the vicinity of 313 yards off the tee and was absolutely effortless and pure as it gets. The 4th hole I hit my hybrid 10 yards longer than normal off the tee, and with less effort. I know it will take a few weeks for these changes to settle in before I can really maximize their potential and I wouldn’t be surprise if I crack the 130 mph mark within the next couple months beating my previous high this past winter of 129 mph. Lookout McChicken – I’m coming for you!
Tiger Woods took 2 years to feel fully comfortable with his swing changes under Hank Haney and Tiger works much more on his swing than I do, so I’m going to keep that in mind as I make these changes. In all, I have a dozen or so changes I’d like to make and I’m guessing each one will take me 2-3 weeks to feel comfortable given the amount of time I currently alot to practice, so this could potentially take 9 months. That’s an awful long time and certainly not how I would teach a student unless he was seriously committed or needed to be committed seriously to a loony bin.
I am going to look at this as earning my bachelor’s degree in biomechanics, so it’s as much for education as it is for anything else. I’ll be discussing these changes here in some detail as I progress, but will be reserving the really good stuff and the explanation for the changes for the Member’s Vault members. Without further ado, let’s look at today’s swing sequence after a couple hours on the range this morning:
You can click the image for a larger view. In frame 1, I have a made a slight adjustment to my setup, anyone guess what it is? Overall, I’m pretty happy with my setup from face on and will only likely change one more thing from this view. Again, I’m primarily focusing on setup changes right now and have a swing thought or two that I’m trying to feel in my actual swing. Changing my setup is enough to leave the brain confused, so I’m trying not to overdo it. In frame 3, I’m really trying to make some changes here and in frame 4. My tendency is to over drive too hard with the right side. This gets me into the position I’m in in frame 5 where I’ve delofted the club a bit too much (this is a 7 iron) and my hands are a bit too far out in front of the ball at impact. Part of my interest in making these changes is to alter this impact position so that my hands can actually slow down and release the club a bit more. I’m actually losing clubhead speed here because I haven’t had time to fully release the club.
In the end, a lot of what I’m working on is simply a matter of rotation, but biomechanically correct rotation. After a couple hours of work on the range with the 7 iron, I picked up the driver and my first swing was 122 mph, that’s a fairly high first swing for me, I’m normally in the mid teens range, and it felt pretty comfortable. I can feel how I can power my swing with even more of the big muscles than I do already, which is going to allow my to swing faster with less work while actually protecting my muscles and joints rather than putting them at greater risk for injury.
In my estimation, I’d say there are atleast 8 valid, complete golf swing models out there that someone could take from beginning to end and successfully strike a golf ball. But there is only one way to biomechanically use the body as it was designed to function. Of course, my preference is for my students to learn the Rotary Swing because it is FAR simpler to learn and easy to perform on a consistent basis with minimal upkeep. And, as I’ve now been informed by biomechanics experts, it’s the only swing model they have found that is biomechanically correct. That being said, there are things that can be refinded to help protect the joints and use the large muscles even more than I already teach to my students. Today I’m going to talk about one of those “Rotary Swing 2.0” modifications.
The setup is something where you can see a million different tour pros do it a million different ways and be completely functional. However, there is only one way for your joints to line up and for the human body to perfectly balanced. Being perfectly balanced allows the golfer to perform other movements correctly and with less effort, so this is a critical component to the swing as you can imagine. Now, don’t get to caught up in all the details just yet, I’m only going to be talking about one piece of the setup in this post and will be explaining the rest in far greater detail with videos in the Member’s Vault.
Examine the photo below:
In this photo, I want you to specifically look at the green line. This green line is eminating from the center of my right ankle and working vertically at 90 degrees. The back of my right knee is also setting on this line. This alignment allows me to balance through the center of my ankles which is exactly how the human body was designed to be in perfect balance. Typically, the golf swing has been taught to have the weight more towards the balls of the feet or center of the foot in a “ready” position. The catch here is that if your natural fully balanced position was in the middle of your foot, that’s where your ankles would be, but they’re not, they’re near the heel. In setting up this way, you’ll notice that the center of my hip is now behind my ankle, represented by the red line. This is not only balanced but allows me to fight the tremendous centrifugal forces of the downwing by moving my center of gravity away from the ball. But for now, just study the ankle and the knee and check your setup with a camera or mirror. If you feel the weight going straight through the middle of your ankles and feel “anchored” to the ground, you’re in a biomechanically balanced setup that will allow you to generate more force with less effort.
I’ve decided to continue my conversion to a Rotary Hitter from a Rotary Swinger, much to the dissappointment of many, but it puts less stress on my left hip which has been injured in 2 car accidents. I’m working on it today in the “Rotary Swing Golf Lab” 🙂 and am sharing an update.
It’s very different going from a body dominated and left side dominated move to a very right arm dominated move, but I’ve found another sport that has helped me get the feeling – tennis. I’ve started playing tennis this week (a whole separate blog to come on that!) and it has really helped me develop the feeling of using the right arm to control the golf club. The forehand in tennis is much like the Rotary Hitter motion, and that’s what I’m actually feeling in my downswing to some degree. I’m feeling as if I maintain the right wrist angle and never release it just you would in a tennis forehand. Now, in reality, they do release, this is just a FEELING that I’m using to develop a sense of hitting with the right arm. It is helping me extend my right arm coming into impact and, of course, maintaining a lot of lag.
In my case, this is actually causing me to release the club too late, which I’m working on, but here’s a quick clip to show you how far the club should be behind the ball by the time your hands get even with ball. The “Lag Drill with the Impact Bag” is a great video to watch if you struggle with maintaining lag in your golf swing as so many golfers do. From this position, the club will release with a lot of speed and very little effort.
In the next screen capture taken just after impact, my right arm has not fully extended at this point and is continuing to work the club down the line too much. It’s a slight amount, but I want the club to work more left after impact with a proper release of the right arm, and that’s what I’m working on, so stay tuned, I’ll get it!
One of the most common “faults” I see in students when giving a lesson is tension in the hands. It often starts at address and only gets worse from there. Apart from robbing the golfer of a consistent release, it also robs the golfer of precious clubhead speed, and thus, potential ball speed. Everyone wants to hit the golf ball further and being properly fitted with the right driver is key, but if you don’t have maximum clubhead speed, you’ll never achieve your potential for maximum distance.
A simple key that I give my students during a lesson is to let their hands almost feel as if they go limp at the top of the swing. Apart from the fact that it gets them to realize just how much tension they have in their hands, it also gives the club a chance to fully set the wrists at the top. This creates more lag and leverage, and also allows the club to come down on the proper plane rather than over the top. Using this simple technique with a student last year, I saw an increase in clubhead speed from 112 mph with the driver jump all the way to 119, literally in one swing. I don’t have to tell you that a seven mph increase in clubhead speed equates to some serious distance. The potential was there all along, he just had to unleash the fury!
If you haven’t already, take a look at my golf instruction videos on “Creating More Lag” and “Passive Arms” to pick up some serious clubhead speed.
Progress, it’s what we’re all after in the golf swing. All my students want to make progress as quickly as possible and so do I. I don’t care for the “to get better you’re going to have to get a lot worse” mantra. If I do the proper fundamentals in the golf swing correctly, I should get better for the most part immediately. One of the things that crept into my golf swing recently was me getting across the line at the top. It wasn’t much, but I really didn’t like the look of it nor the misses it predisposed me to. So, I set out to fix it and I’m very pleased with the results.
In the picture on the left, you can see how I let the club get slightly across the line. In the picture from today, you can see how I’m in a perfect position at the top with the club having a slightly “laid off” look because I haven’t taken it back all the way to parallel. I accomplished this by having more forearm rotation on the way back. Even though it would seem to many that rotating the club open, or “fanning” it on the way back would lead to an open clubface, you can see that my clubface is dead square at the top as it is perfectly inline with my left forearm.
The end result, I’m in a much more stable and consistent position at the top and that’s progress…
Progress sometimes comes slowly and with the driver it can be brutal. While I’ve been hitting the ball well with the big dog, I’ve certainly missed quite a few shots as well. Any little flaw in your swing that isn’t compensated for is shown in “High Def” when you miss with this club. A seven iron blocked 5 yards right ends up in the trees 20 yards right when the ball is moving at 160 mph, so things have to be pretty solid to hit the driver consistently well. While my changes from last week are becoming much more comfortable, I’ve added one thing to them that is specific to this club.
My driver swing tends to get a little long at the top and I will get across the line at the top when this happens. Today I worked on getting a little more square at the top. I setup with my shoulders and clubface square at address but my feet closed, so I don’t get too overly concerned if I’m slightly across the line at the top. If I set up with my feet square, my shaft points more down the target line, but I feel more stable with my feet slightly closed with the driver. Many rotary swingers had a similar setup with the driver including Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. Numerous other modern day tour pros do as well, such as Charles Howell III. Here is a video clip from today’s practice session.
When working on swing changes like this, my dynamics are often the first thing to go and you can see that here. My body is a little static at the top of my swing and that forces me to use my arms. This usually isn’t a problem for me when I’m not thinking about anything, so I don’t sweat it. Overall, my position at the top is a bit better and progress is progress.
Making changes in your golf swing can be very challenging experience. It can also be very rewarding when done correctly. As I’ve been working over this past week to get back to the Rotary Swing that I teach from the Hank Haney – Tiger Woods model, I’ve made awesome progress. Awesome in that I’ve achieved my small goals and can visibly see the differences in my swing.
My small goals for the week were to improve my impact position and as a result, lower my ball flight. While I’m not doing it perfectly every time, when I do what I’m working on correctly my shots fly on a perfectly flat trajectory. My wedges are the lowest they’ve ever been and have a very stable flight that won’t be affected by the wind. This is exactly what I’m looking for.
The second piece is actually seeing those changes on camera. More often than not, when making a swing change we can do something that feels incredibly different, yet, looks exactly the same. Making visible changes in the golf swing requires that things often feel radically different. The visible changes I wanted to see can be seen below:
The changes visible in this sequence taken today show that my swing is shorter, more round and less across the line at the the top. These things have gotten the shaft going right through my right forearm in the downswing as I talked about in a recent instructional video on the Member’s Vault. Before, it was coming down steep, above the forearm. At impact, my body is open to the target line and the shaft and my right forearm are in alignment. I’m very happy to have seen such progress in four days of practice.
The second visible change you can see is below where I have put them side by side. At impact, my tendency is to let my head move laterally during the downswing and end up with the club coming in too late and I get jammed up “waiting” on the club. You can see now that my head has stayed back and I’m in a much better position in the picture on the left from today. The picture on the right taken earlier in the week shows how I’ve moved laterally toward the target with my head putting me in the weaker position. All in all, it was a great practice week with all the progress that can be reasonably expected in such a short period of time. I expect it to take me about 3 weeks to get comfortable with these changes before they will run on automatic.
The dynamics of the golf swing are infrequently talked about in most golf lessons and few instructors even understand them, but at the end of the day, they are THE single most important defining factor in the golf swing. You can take any golfer and get them to eventually move the club through decent positions, but getting them to hit the ball properly requires excellent dynamics from start to finish. It is the dynamics of the golf swing that give it effortless power and repeatability. It is also great dynamics that make up for less than ideal positions throughout the swing. In this latest Member’s Vault video, you can watch as I discuss some of the dynamics in three professional golfer’s swings, including Tiger Woods. The included article also demonstrates how I match Tiger’s swing positions from face on very well but obviously don’t hit it like Tiger, I hit it more like Winnie the Pooh. Ok, I don’t hit it bad, but I’m certainly not Tiger Woods even though my swing may look a lot like his.
One quick pic from down the line. You can see below how my foot has definitely stayed down longer into the follow through. This really gives me a great sense of more control and stability at impact and I’m really looking forward to getting this change down.