March 2015

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 Lag or Throw?

Let me start off by saying that there are many ways to swing the golf club. The Hall of fame is graced by players who all have different styles and impact positions. The commonality is that they all produced a correct repetitive impact which led to their success.

But, I want to address this issue of lag. The concept of lag has been debated in the golf istruction business for years. The term lag in golf refers to the clubhead trailing the handle on the downswing. My issue as a teacher is that since golfers see so many still positions of the club in pictures, they see the club lagging behind the handle on the downswing and therefore try to hold the angle. This causes tension, an open clubface, a flipping of the clubface at impact to square the face and generally poor contact. I think of lag as what a baseball player does when he wants to check his swing. He holds the barrel of the bat back lagging it behind the handle and, thereby, slowing down the swing. There is a term called "handle dragging" which is starting to get some traction in golf instruction circles. This is simply moving the handle too far ahead of the club or lagging the club too long. 

At some point, we want to slow the handle down so the clubhead can whip through. Imagine throwing a baseball sidearm. While your  arm is moving in a circular motion around your body, your wrist bends back into extension and then releases into flexion. You don't hold anything! You throw hard! This is a wonderful feel for your golf swing as well. The ironic thing is that if you do this with a golf club, you will see lag early as your wrist goes into extension, but then the clubhead whips around and lines up with the handle at impact. If you look at this picture of Hogan at impact face on, you wil see a shaft that is SLIGHTLY forward leaning at impact. But, this forward lean is not because of lag at impact.  It is because the body has moved towards the target in the downswing. Hogan's hands are right in front of his zipper at impact. At one point, Hogan said he wished he had three right hands. I think he said that because he wanted to throw harder!



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zander Tip zone

mental game   strategy tip   short game

Steven Yellin, author of the Fluid Motion Factor book, sent me an email the other day. I thought it was worth sharing as the road to improvement is a tricky one.

Steven Yellin writes: Last week I had a conversation with a Tour player who won three times on Tour. His last victory was in 2010. After he won, he thought he had to work on his swing to get to the next level. So, he started to do some corrective surgery on it. He not only has not won again, but he started to dislike golf so much that he contemplated quitting the game.

What’s the moral of the story? The moral is simple. If you are hitting it acceptably on the range and on the course, don’t feel you have to do major surgery on your swing. Don’t have unrealistic expectations as to where your game can go.  Work on accessing what you already own. Have Josh teach you the Fluid Motion Factor program so you can more consistently access the money you have in the bank. If you take this route, you will probably play more consistently and enjoy the game more and more.


When you hit an approach shot from the rough, the ball acts very differently than it does from the fairway. First, it is very difficult to curve the ball out of the rough. The heavy grass fills the grooves and makes it difficult to generate enough spin to shape a shot. Also, the lack of spin makes the ball come out hot so you need to allow for more roll after the ball lands. Nick Faldo gave some great advice during the telecast at Torrey Pines. He said that you should get a yardage to the front of the green when hitting from the rough. Wally Goodwyn, my golf coach in college, used to tell us that if we missed, we should miss short of the green. This would more often leave you with an uphill chip and a good chance of getting up and down. Over the green is usually a disaster and can lead to big numbers. 



During playing lessons, I notice how many strokes amateurs leave on the course due to poor green reading. Students are constantly saying "I see this amount of break." I no longer ask students what they see. I ask them "What do you feel?"

Reading break is just another way of figuring out how gravity is affecting your golf ball. While your eyes can deceive you, your balance does not. Aimpoint green reading has made this into a science but suffice it to say that the same gravitational force that is pulling on you is pulling on your ball. 

If you were to walk from your ball to the hole and feel how the slope is affecting your body, you will start to understand break.  A good way to get rid of seeing break is to close your eyes. Now, it is all about what you feel. 








How would you practice if you had to shoot a score with your life on the line? Would you get a video camera and film your swing from multiple angles and then hit three buckets of six irons? My friend, Mike Adams, calls that trying to satisfy the one eyed monster (the video camera). It's not about making the swing look perfect; it's about hitting solid repetitive golf shots and, of course, getting it up and down from everywhere. I'm a fan of technology and use it in my teaching. But, quality of contact and ball flight is the best teacher. Some of the greatest players in the history of the game had unconventional looking golf swings but, boy, did they function. The fact is that the swing fit their body and they didn't let the video camera (many didn't even have one) tell them that they were wrong. I urge you to be careful about how you spend your time. After all, they don't give trophies out for the prettiest golf swing. In Hogan's era, if you wanted to see your swing on film, you had to send it out and you got it back in a couple of weeks. That may have been a blessing in disguise. 




The following is advice from World Golf Teacher Hall of Famer Jim Hardy: "In  this age of over information and superstars in golf changing their swings, amateur golfers are often confused on how to improve their game. The best advice I can give is the same one my mother used to offer up; take it one step at a time.  Don't fall into the trap of a complete overhaul. That's painful and not always successful. Improve your golf by improving your impact. How do you do that? Easier than you think. Pick your big miss...the shot that's too often ruining your score be it a sliced driver, a fat wedge, short putts or topped fairway woods, and learn how to correct it. Golf improvement is accomplished incrementally through correction, not through creating a new swing. The goal is ball control or put another way, of predicting the outcome before the event. Not knowing the outcome is the killer. It's not that hard to keep the basics of your swing and improve them by simply learning a more correct and repetitive impact. By eliminating your big misses one at a time,  you'll improve your swing, improve your impact and, most importantly, become more predictable."

health tips

5 Great Golf Stretches

Stretching before playing golf provides a more fluid movement. Below are a few golf stretches that can be easily done before you play. For the golf stretches shown below, it is recommended that you hold each stretch for 8-10 seconds then rest and repeat 1-2 times.

1) Using a golf club, hold the club with one hand gripped firmly on each end. When you begin this, hold the club in front of you, then take the club and reach your arms as far back as possible. You should feel this in the lats, shoulders, and chest. Moving the club gently behind and rotating the club back and forth, you will feel your torso open up.

2) Take the golf club with a wide grip at each end and push the club straight up above your head. Now, with a firm grip, try and keep your body below the belt from moving as you slowly bend in an arc back and forth and sideways to get an even bigger lat stretch to help you with more extension in your backswing.

3) Take a 6 iron and place it directly in front of you with the bottom of the club firmly planted into the ground in front of you. Using the club to support you with your arms extended outward, put one hand on top of the other and lean backwards until you reach a neutral spine angle. You should feel a good stretch in the hamstrings, lower back and lats.

4) Place the handle of the club firmly on top of the ground. To stretch the right hamstring, place the left hand on top of the bottom of the club. Lean forward and bend the left knee - then extend the left leg forward with your right heel into the ground and your toes pointing upward. You should feel a very strong stretch in your right hamstring. Reverse the body positioning to stretch the left hamstring.

5) These next two stretches will help prevent golfer's elbow. To stretch the flexor muscles on the forearm (bottom of the forearm) simply extend one arm forward until it is completely straight. Then, gently grab onto your fingers and pull them slowly backward toward your body and hold for 8-10 seconds. To stretch the extensor muscles (top of the forearm) push the palm of your hand gently downward as shown in picture. You should feel the muscles on top of the forearm stretch. 

Article by, Sidney Silver: TPI Golf Medical & Golf Fitness expert. (415) 932-6775