In the Golf Swing, Too Much of a Good Thing, Can Be a Bad Thing
While I was traveling and playing golf with my partner the week before last, I noticed he had made some changes in his short game technique . . . and not for the better.
Ralph is a great “lab rat” for me, as he is a 12-14 hcp player, who loves the game and loves to practice.
But he also loves to experiment.
For all the years I’ve known him, his short game is pretty good, and he always could hit these very nice soft, high pitch shots.
Well, on the past two trips with him, I noticed he had moved the ball way back in his stance and was dramatically forward pressing his hands, de-lofting his 60* lob wedge significantly.
Because he has good touch, he was not chipping all that bad this way, but he had totally lost that soft high pitch.
When he needed a soft pitch with spin, he no longer had it.
So, we talked about it, he moved the ball back up, with his hands only slightly ahead of the ball, and quickly regained that very effective shot.
Here’s my point: We all tend to exaggerate tips that we find that work for us. In his case, he found that when he moved the ball back a bit, and his hands forward, he made cleaner contact. So far, so good.
But then he just kept moving the ball further back and the hands further forward until he was totally out of kilter.
When you are making changes in your golf game, always remember two things;
1. Make small changes and monitor results carefully.
2. Too much of a good thing . . . is a bad thing.
If you have passed “through” a period of good ball striking, chipping, pitching, putting, etc., because of a tip, you probably just went too far with the application. Move back “toward the center” and see if it doesn’t help.
This game is tough, and the laws of physics and physiological dynamics are working very fast during a golf swing. Your body cannot process mid-swing thoughts and corrections, so it is imperative that you begin each swing with the proper posture, set-up and ball position.
Review those basics often on the practice tee and even with practice swings in your garage or back yard.
And remember, when you want to make changes to a shot – hit it low, high, etc. – the required adjustments are very small.
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I experiment quitre a bit too. During some recent practice with my wedges (which have been giving me trouble - hitting them fat), I was considering that it may not be the best technique to strike the ball with hands in front and delofting the club face as it seems to severely reduce the benefit of bounce.
Do you have any words to help your readers understand what happens in relation to shaft angle with regard to the bounce of the wedge? Also, what happens to bounce when we open the club face way up and how does a steep/shallow swing help or hurt?
Greg, That is a very good question and observation. The effect of shaft angle on loft and bounce is a direct one. Each degree of forward "lean" of the shaft diminshes the loft and bounce by the same degree. It is very easy for a golfer with pronounced forward lean to change his lofts by one or two complete irons, i.e. making a PW into an 8-iron. And by doing that, you also turn the club into a "sod removal tool", as you eliminate all bounce, turning the club into a pretty darn good shovel.
Opening the face of any club increases the effective bounce by a magnified amount, and that's what makes sand wedges work so well when they are laid open.
I might add that almost all golfers I see play the ball too far back in their stance in the bunkers, which leads to a sharply descending blow and very inconsistent contact. I'll write a new post soon on a simple way to "build" a reliable sand stance and ball position.
Some magic golf tips are only helpful when practiced consistently, and even then should be left for the rare occassion. Even the pros tend to shy away from the flop shot when they have other choices. Since I play about once a week, I stick with the shot that worked last time, and yes you guessed it, sometimes I willingly choose the low percentage flop shot even when I have other choices, just because it worked so well last time. Sometimes I play the ball back because that is what has been working better that day. It has a lot to do with what feels right at the time and little to do with good golf.
Here is a shot that I have learned recently. Play the ball back in your stance and knuckle it out of the rough or a burried lie in the sand. It is like dragging a flop shot, played back in the stance. Don't even bother to open the clubface on the way back. Imagine being able to hit a high lofted wedge with almost no spin. You have to have good hands, but even when not hit perfectly the shot seems to still come out as expected. I heard Scot Hoch describe that you can actually read the name mark on the ball while it is in the air. Bobby Jones demonstated that shot in his videos. It is a situational shot and should probably be saved for special occassions.
I think everyone is so fascinated by trick shots that are being played every day on the tour that "common sense" has actually been changed and poor shot selection follows. We would all play better if we picked shots that match our capabilities and not try what someone else does well.
Question: Who goes out and practices shots out of a 5 inch rough?
1. The "used to be" members......
2. The guy who can't hit the fairway
3. The guy who just won the US Open. What is his name again? Cabrera
4. Definitely not Phil Mickelson(and I don't mean that in a critical way.... that rough at the US Open was probably more like 6 inches)
This is to Greg.....Your shot usually bottoms out were your head is. You may be leaning back to try to add loft. This seems right, but leads to misery. Try shifting your weight forward on your way through your swing while making sure your right shoulder is not dropping. Hope this helps.
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