Monthly Archives: August 2018

Lesson of the Week: Alan Grabush- Working on a Quirky Backswing

By Wayne | Videos: Lesson of the Week

I’ve been working with Alan off and on for over 4 years now, and while we have made significant progress at times with his ball striking we have never been able to rid him of the hitch in his backswing. The biggest issue is that Alan doesn’t feel what he is doing, which means he is not aware of it unless he sees it on video. He can perfectly position the club in the mirror, and he can perform reasonable stop and go drills from different starting points, but in a full swing there is a pattern of movement that causes his hands to move toward his head in transition, which creates a steeper plane than he would like while also making difficult the task of getting the upper right arm in front of the ribcage in the forward swing and the hands further forward on the approach and at impact. In the past I have failed to account for his body motion in assessing why the arms should move the way they do, but in this lesson, I do a bit of hands on holding of his head during the swing, and the results are very encouraging.

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Swing Analysis: David Lingmerth

By Wayne | Videos: Swing Analysis

These swings were filmed at the Ohio State Scarlet Course the practice round Tuesday before the first of the final four Web.Com Tour events. I was out with Willy Wilcox and we were joined by Lingmerth and David Hearn for 9 holes in the afternoon. It was a windy day on a long and difficult course, and as I like to do for practice rounds I took my camera and tripod, taking film of Willy to look at after the round (I will sneak a peek during) and taking advantage of the opportunity to film the group. David has had a nice career but has slipped since his best year in 2015, going from 2.7 million to 1.7 in 2016, one million in 2017, and just over $600,000 in 2018, which left him 142nd on the money list and a spot in the Web.Com finals to secure a Tour card for next season. David is a strong, stocky guy, which might partially explain his trigger motion and the flatness of his shoulder turn, which to me gets his right arm well behind him at the top. It is obvious that David pulls his upper body back away from the ball, making him immediately more erect and flattening his shoulder turn angle significantly. His right arm is low at P3 with a lot of wrist cock, and by the time he gets into transition the upper right arm is snug to his body and well behind him. He does a great job sequencing his body movement and with his hip and pelvic action in the downswing, but his backswing trigger and upper body pull- back inevitably trap his right arm behind him in transition. He brings the hands back out in front of him as best he can from the top, but I don’t think he can quite get the quality strike he is looking for with his arm as behind him as it is. If I were working with him I would certainly try to get him to quiet down his trigger and get wider at the top so that the upper right arm could move more in front of him in the forward swing.

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Lesson of the Week: Frank Goldman- Overcoming Shoulder Mobility Problems

By Wayne | Videos: Lesson of the Week

Frank works in New York but lives in Baltimore where he is a former member of my club, Woodholme CC. Working in the Wall Street world of finance Frank gets invited to play some of the courses clustered in the New York area from Westchester out to the tip of Long Island, which happen to be some of the best courses in the world. He never practices, but he is tired of not being able to play at a level that would produce a decent score on a difficult track. He decided he wanted to get better, so he contacted me about taking a series of lessons. In his first visit I could see that this would be a project, but the good news was that he is an athletic guy and had a good feel for the general motion of the swing. I saw right away that his major problem was the common issue of right arm folding and pulling behind him in the backswing, which made it impossible for him to get his hands far enough forward at P6 to forward lean the club on an iron shot. When I told him that he needed to make a better upper trunk turn in the backswing and keep his hands wider at the top with space under his right arm, he pointed out that his left shoulder had an impingement that made it hurt when it stretched to a certain point. I knew right then that for Frank to have his right arm stay more in front of him his swing would have to be radically shorter, and if we were able to accomplish that he would then have to train his hands to feel the lag of the club and to square the face as they passed in front of the ball. I referred him to my M.A.T specialist who is working on his shoulder, and we have consistently worked on gaining space with the right arm while keeping it from over bending. Thus, stop and go swings are a staple of the lesson, after which we switch over to impact drills to train his hands what to do were he to get them as forward as we were hoping.

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Lesson of the Week: Ben Skowronski- Proper Sequence and Lag

By Wayne | Videos: Lesson of the Week

This is my 3rd lesson with Ben, and as you will see, he is really a problem case. This is where a teacher really must know what he or she is doing to get this guy to actually compress the golf ball. Luckily, Ben’s backswing has no serious flaws, although I would like him to load deeper into his right hip and cock his wrists a bit more. This is nitpicking, however, and there are much greater priorities than perfecting his backswing. Ben has no sense of athletic sequence when it comes to the golf swing, while he can throw a ball sidearm with good form. Ben literally must build a totally new perception of the downswing and the strike of the ball if he is ever going to be able to tap into his innate athletic ability. I always start these projects with less than full shots, either a punch shot or a pitch shot, as it is much more likely that a player can feel the delay of the upper body and the club in a shorter swing. The idea is to get the hands in front of the ball at impact, and I could put a guy like Ben in a perfect approach position, ask him if he could hit it from there, and he would say “no”. The clubhead is moving so much faster than the hands at the bottom of the swing that if you have never hit a ball with forward shaft lean you just can’t figure out how the club would ever reach the ball, much less close to square, when your hands are even with the ball and the shaft is parallel to the ground. In this lesson we achieved success with the pivot sequence. Now we must deal with how the hands accept the weight of the clubhead and bend back instead of pushing the club forward.

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Tiger Woods in the Fairway Bunker: No, Peter, He Doesn’t “Maintain his Height”

By Wayne | Videos: As Seen On TV and Extras

When CBS slowed down Tiger’s beautiful pitching wedge shot from the fairway bunker on the first hole of the final round of the PGA Championship, I had an immediate feeling that I knew what the commentary would be. Of course, as everyone knows, you can’t hit a fairway bunker shot if you “dip”, another synonym for lowering during the swing, because you will always hit behind it. I’ve seen this movie before, watching Butch Harmon explain how Jay Haas was “staying tall” and “keeping his levels” while hitting an iron out of a fairway bunker, when right in front of him the guy he was talking about was lowering going back and in transition like he does on every shot. I knew Tiger has never hit a full shot he didn’t lower on, so it was no surprise when a) Peter Kostis states that the reason Tiger made such ball first contact was that he “was not losing his heighth (sic) (the word is “height”) with his head”, and that he was “keeping his level really, really well”. This is a perfect example of a logical conclusion that is not backed up by the evidence presented by the video of the shot. So, I blow up the swing, put a line on top of Tiger’s head (the camera angle isn’t perfect, but the camera is fixed which makes the exercise valid), and watch Tiger lower in the backswing and then lower more on the downswing, exactly how he hits every shot. I cringe when I think of the players who will go out and try to stay extra tall on their fairway bunker shots, not realizing that when they hit the ball fat out of the sand it’s because of poor sequence or clubhead throwaway, the same reasons they never get good contact from the fairway either. After all these years I thought these guys (Nick and Pete) might have learned their lesson on this point, but it doesn’t seem that that’s the case.

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Lesson of the Week: John Shmerler-So Hard to Change a Pattern

By Wayne | Videos: Lesson of the Week

Here is a 3 handicapper with what would be considered a good swing but one he would like to change for the better. We have identified the issues, and they are stubborn to say the least. John tends to get the shaft flat at P3 and heading to P4 he always stuffs his right upper arm in close to his side, finishing the backswing with some right shoulder blade pull-back. This not only affects his sequence (the right shoulder pull-back actually initiates his downswing by leaning the upper body over the lower before the lower can get started) but keeps his right arm from getting into any kind of “pitch” position where the upper arm would be in front of the rib cage with the right elbow leading. It’s obvious that John has an excellent idea of what he would like to do, as shown by his spot-on slow-motion demonstration of his desired positions. After identifying the differences between his real swing and his demonstration, john does his best to stand the shaft up at P3, which would not seem to be the hardest thing to do. However, with a ball in front of the club for a full shot the best we could do was to go from 12 degrees flat off plane to 6 degrees, while the right arm still resisted getting wider and higher. The lesson ended on a positive note, but there is no denying the difficulty in changing baked in patterns when trying to hit a ball to a target with a full speed swing. In my opinion your “natural swing”, the one you don’t think about, doesn’t really have a “feel” to it; rather, it just “happens”. It’s like you don’t notice a body part unless it hurts. If you are aware of a swing flaw and can do it properly in a segmented (stop and go) drill, then you must be able to develop an awareness of how it feels when you do what you normally do. If you have nothing to compare your everyday move to, why would it change? The real “aha” moment is when you do what you always do and say “oh, I felt that”. Only then can you try to feel something different.

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Playing for Money: Willy Wilcox- Going Back to the Old Swing

By Wayne | Videos: Playing For Money

I did a video of Willy in 2015 when he was on TV and playing great, noticing right away how open his stance was in relation to his target line. I have an affection for open stances as I’ve always been a Trevino fan and I played that way myself for many years. I felt that with the open stance I could clear my hips much faster and easier, and since I have always been prone to flatten the shaft, be slow with my hips, and thus get the club stuck behind me on the approach, dropping my left foot back made a big difference. One of the reasons I went away from it was due to the problems with teaching all day talking about alignment and swing plane, items which are much easier to visualize and explain when all the lines are parallel and perpendicular. Anyway, when Willy got in touch with me and came to my club the first time we worked mainly on short game, but when we did hit some full shots I was surprised to see a dead square stance. I didn’t really have time to go over much in that 2-hour session as far as the full swing was concerned, but when he came up again the next week I made it my mission to get him back to what had worked so well back in 2015. I suggested he go back to the open stance and pull the hands in deeper on the backswing while opening the face a bit. From there it was all familiar to him and he started hitting it nicely right away. He has had some nice results in the past month (22nd, 8th, 3rd) on the Web.Com Tour, and is in position to regain his Tour card.

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Online Lesson: Matt Shevland- Lower Body Stability, Sequence, and Right Arm Positioning

By Wayne | Videos: Online Students

While Matt pinpoints his biggest problem as his release, I see some things that make releasing the club properly problematical, especially the instability of the lower body in the backswing. Matt has a large amount of hip slide to the right from P2 to P4, enough so that his pelvis is not in position to initiate the forward swing properly with the rotation of the right -side hip rotator muscles. Because his pelvis has so far to go just to get back where they started it is no surprise that his upper body leans to the left to begin transferring pressure from right to left. In addition, from an on -plane position at P3 Matt stops rotation his forearms and pulls his right upper arm and shoulder back behind him, causing the shaft to cross the line and pushing the upper body to the left before the hips have a chance to lead the movement. I suggest to Matt that he work hard on keeping his hips in the face-on box in the backswing by first concentrating on keeping pressure on the inside of the right foot by pronating the arch of the foot against the ground, and then by placing something heavy like a bag stand or a chair on either his left hip or his right hip to try to feel what it is like to not slide the hips. If the hips stay more in the box Matt can improve his backswing plane and not cross the line by supinating his right forearm (rotating it clockwise) continuously from P3 to P4, which will cause the right shoulder to begin external rotation and the upper arm to stay more in front of the chest. Another benefit of stabilizing the hips is that it would make keeping them deeper in the forward swing much easier to work on since they wouldn’t be so busy trying to slide back to the left after losing so much ground with the slide.

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Online Lesson: Phil Pfeiffer – Problems with Posture, Right Arm Movement, and Pelvic Movement

By Wayne | Videos: Online Students

Phil certainly knows what’s going on by now, and he is exactly correct, his old habits are still in there causing problems. For anyone with tendencies to early extend and hump out from under themselves in transition it is death to set up with any appearance of sitting back in the heels. Phil needs to exaggerate the feeling of being up and out over the ball with less knee flex, flare the right arm more in the backswing, and concentrate on creating more tilt in the pelvis in transition.

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Swing Analysis: Francesco Molinari-A Picture of Consistency

By Wayne | Videos: Swing Analysis

Francesco Molinari has been around a long time (turned pro in 2004) and has been one of the most consistently successful players in the last 14 years, compiling over 30 million dollars in earnings and playing on two Ryder Cups. Recently he has been on an incredible roll, with 3 wins and 2 seconds in the last two months, topped off by his stirring victory in the Open Championship. His ball striking stats are uniformly good, and as his short game and putting have gelled recently he is practically unbeatable. As we look at his swing we see a solid, unremarkable action that has picked up 20 yards in distance off the tee in the last 3 years. Interesting items in his motion are the small lift in his trigger, the lifted left heel in the backswing, and the compressing move he makes in transition. He exhibits a neutral grip, neutral left wrist at the top, a slight shallowing of the shaft in transition, and saves all his lowering for the early downswing, after which he uses the ground for added force through impact.

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