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The most important shot in golf is…

…Well, there are some options here:

-The Putt.  We all know you drive for show, but putt for dough.  Dave Pelz says that the 50-50 line for a putt is somewhere around six feet out.  And even a three-footer isn’t automatic.  So, if a putt is longer than three feet, success looks like leaving it inside a 3-foot radius circle.  Hmmmn.  

But, there’s the drive:

-In a moment of rare clarity I muttered something once that “It’s hard to scream with the Eagles and chirp with the Birdies when you’re in the woods scratching with the squirrels looking for your tee ball.”   I think I was taking stock of Chigger bites after attempting to find Robin Hood, err…tee balls all day. 

-Of course, there’s the approach.  But, it turns out the pros miss a third of those on average.  Nonetheless, it’s hard to make Birdie putts from the bunker.

-It can’t be a sand shot…how many of those can one have in a round?  Ok, how many SHOULD one have in a round.  More than four? 

-Which leads to my candidate: The Chip.

I had a good round the other day on a tough tract in the rain and the wind and on purely saturated ground.  Greens were still fast, though.  Hit only 5 greens and shot an 80.  Six out of eight chips were gimmes.  27 putts.  It literally made the round.  75% is the number I see for Tour Pros on those shots.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had 75% success on chips before…but, I could get used to it in a hurry. 

In fact, I’ve been a dreadful chipper of the ball for years.  So much so that I talked Chuck into using me for the guinea pig at the Williamsburg Clinic.  It’s slowly gotten better.  But, last Saturday was the breakthrough…or at least a welcomed spike in performance. 

The approach was simple: “See the shot, make sure to turn.  (as opposed to wristing it)”  I wouldn’t chip it until I ‘saw’ it.  The two I missed were because the ball reacted differently than I thought it would, but the ball and flight were right where I wanted them.  That’s golf.  I made notes in case I run into those shots again. 

One of Chuck’s videos talks about a “no-brainer chip.”  I never had one of those until last Saturday.  Literally “No-brain.”  See it, Chip it…score.  Just like putting.

 
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Driver Swing

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.

 
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Progress Comes in Small Doses…

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:

professional golfer

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.

professional golfer impact

 
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Looks Like Tigger – Hits Like Winnie the Pooh

tiger woods addressThe 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.

 
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Best Ball Tournament

My very eclectic team played in an annual charity “Best Ball” tournament last Friday.  This is a highlight of the golf year as it’s always a lot of fun.  Last year we came in third place out of 36 teams.  This year, we were going to win. 

Tropical Storm Ernesto had been through the area a week before and left us with almost a foot of rain.  This course, which is one of the few Bermuda tracts up this way was long and waterlogged.  And, as seems to be the case more and more up this way, the greens were not good at all.  Summer seems to tear up the Bent greens with fungus. 

The team drove beautifully all day, but the approach shots were not up to snuff.  Inevitably the balls were coming up short.  I’d put the ball back a bit, but it didn’t seem to help. 

In retrospect, what I should have done was try to “Shallow” out the swing into more of a sweep.  What I ended up doing was taking enormous Ian Woosnan-sized doormat divots while watching ballon balls settle on the front apron.  Very discouraging.  Tee balls on par 3′s were fine.  It was out of that wet, long bermuda fairway that was giving me and the team fits. 

  Nonetheless, the team made a fair jag of birdies.  The hardest part of a Super Ball tournament is that they last forever.  At the five-hour mark, after an early wake up and a long drive, the team just lost all its energy.  We could feel it and commented on it, but energy bars didn’t seem to fix the issue. 

  So we limped home with only one birdie on the last five holes.  62, which tied for third, two strokes off the lead.  Of course, we “Lost on the Card” as they say when you lose a tie-breaker.  It was a quiet drive home.  I thought the others were stewing until I looked around and saw they were all asleep.  Beers on the deck finished the afternoon.  All in all, a good day.  “Two lousy putts” was a common refrain. 

  But, we’ll get ‘em next year.  You can put that in the book!

 
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Down the Line View

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.

down the line follow through

 
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Swing Changes – Day 1 Progress

After looking at my swing on video yesterday and seeing how much my right heel was shooting off the ground, I knew I had to make some changes in a hurry. Today I went out and begun the process. While this is a pretty simple change on the surface, it will not be easy to overcome as it is simply one of the dynamics of my swing. It happens without me having any conscious control over it and at a phase in the swing where everything is running on automatic, making it very challenging to make the change and still hit the ball well. Unfortunately, I’ve agreed to play in a mini-tour event tomorrow, so this has the potential for a small disaster!

Right now I feel ok, I’m hitting the ball pretty solid while working on these changes, but at the cost of about 10 yards per club because I have to slow everything down to get the sequencing under control. Enough with the discussion, let’s look at some pics!

Chuck Quinton golf swing

In this pic, you can see my swing from yesterday on the left and my swing from today on the right in the “Barney” colored purple shirt – that’s what my wife calls it, anyway, I like it. Whether you like my shirt or not, my impact position on the right demonstrates my efforts to get my lower body more stable, although my hips are still running out ahead just a touch. But, you can see that my right heel has stayed more on the ground at impact rather than starting to turn out like on the left.

Into the follow through, you can see this a little more clearly:

quinton follow throug

Notice how my right knee hasn’t collapsed in as much in today’s swing compared to yesterday. However, it’s still starting to roll outward rather than inward. It’s progress, but it’s not right yet.

So what the heck causes this and why am I trying to change this in my swing? Well, it wouldn’t be any fun if I just gave you all the answers right up front! Just kidding. Although, I will be doing a video for this very soon in my online golf instruction section, the Member’s Vault. But for now, take a look at the picture below of me and Tiger Woods and you should be able to figure out pretty quickly the dysfunction in my golf swing.

tiger woods golf swing

While I normally don’t slide like this, it is something that started happening today as I tried to keep my heel down more to get a feeling for it. I didn’t slide at all yesterday, but that was because I just let my hips spin out and get out in front of me. Like I said, it’s progress but there’s plenty of work to do ahead. Stay tuned as I keep working on building the perfect golf swing!

 
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Project X Shafts vs. Tour Concepts

I’ve always been a high ball, high spin player. For a while now, I’ve been looking for shafts to help bring my ball flight down and reduce spin. After hitting a set of Adrian Wadey’s Bridgestone J33′s with Project X’s that felt like telephone poles, I was sold. The ball flight was so much more consistent and flat than my Titleist 681′s with S300 shafts. The only problem was that Adrian had no idea what flex his shafts were and there was no frequency machine around to test them. I ordered some 6.5′s and decided to give them a try.

project x shafttour concept shaft

After getting back home from the Utah Open qualifier, I put in an old set of irons, some TourStage Z101′s with Tour Concept X100 shafts. These were DRAMATICALLY better than the S300′s, so I kept them in and tested them against a 7 iron 681 with the Project X shaft I installed in it as a test. The test club came to a D3 swing weight and frequencied at 7.5 on the Rifle scale, or a soft X-flex. I took both seven irons out and after a warm up, was hitting my Z101 about 172 yards to a practice green at our course. I then pulled out the Project X and was pretty bummed with what happened next.

I hit the first shot very solid and it actually ballooned on me, starting on a nice lower trajectory and then climbing high and falling out of the sky 10 yards short of where I was just hitting the TC shaft. I just considered it a fluke and hit some more. Each shot flew higher and shorter with MORE spin than the Tour Concept X100. The TC shaft frequencied slightly stiffer at about 8.2, or just over half a flex stiffer, and that likely had some influence, but overall, I was dissappointed with this first go around. I’ll have to keep digging to see if I can the specs on Adrian’s clubs. Note, the loft angle of each club was identical at 31*.

 
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My Golf Swing Changes

I spent the last 6 months or so learning more about Hank Haney’s golf swing theory that he has taught Tiger Woods. I had guidance from Hank’s director of instruction in Texas and made great progress in learning this hybrid two plane swing. I did this for the purpose of educating myself more in depth to better help my students in the future. After 6 months, I’m DONE! I’m in the process of going back to my swing, the Rotary Swing that I teach and you can track this progress here. It’s always interesting to make changes and then try and go back to where you started. It can be like learning to walk again, but I enjoy the process because it helps me relate to my students who are making changes. I get to experience the same challenges and frustrations and now you get to share it with me on my blog!

The first thing I am targeting is the movement of right heel during the downswing. Right now, it is lifting off the ground and moving straight up rather than in toward my left. This is causing my right hip to kick in and creating instability in my lower body. My lower body is getting too far out in front and out of sync with my upper body and this is causing some inconsistency in my ball flight. You can see what I’m talking about in the picture.

right heel lift in golf downswing

You can see how my right heel is lifting straight up and my right knee moves in too much. This week I’ll be working on getting it to move more toward my left foot to keep my lower body from getting too far out in front and creating the jammed up look and feel I have at impact.

 
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