Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stack and Tilt from the Horse's Mouth

As told by Lynn Blake:

I think the greatest benefit of Stack and Tilt (Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett) is its emphasis on the centered and stationary head. When you keep your head steady -- no Swaying (Fourth Snare / 3-F-7-D) -- good things happen.

As Andy explained to me on the practice tee of last year's AT&T Classic, the much misunderstood 'tilt' portion of S&T is necessary to restore the centered head of the player who has swayed to the right (and 'tilted' his spine away from the target). In other words, after the Sway, you must 'tilt back' (toward the target) to re-center the head that never should have moved in the first place! This is the demon they fight in so many of the players who come to them.

"But Andy," said I, "What if the player keeps his head centered and stationary . . . like this . . ." (and I demonstrated my backstroke).

"That's perfect," said he. "You don't need to tilt."

So . . . if you sway to the right, S&T dictates that you 'tilt back' to the left to restore the centered head (and the 'stack' of the lower and upper body). But, if you correctly 'stack', i.e., never 'unstack', then you don't need to 'tilt'.

Guess the editors at Golf Digest didn't think we needed a system just called 'Stack'.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Stack and Tilt Revisited

(L-Before R-After)

After having problems hitting the ball fat, Kevin was taught how to tilt his shoulders on the takeaway to produce a "stacked" backswing.

Notice in the picture on the left, the head is almost over the right foot. As mentioned earlier in another post, if the head doesn't shift back to where it was at address, the club will bottom out too early.

In the picture on the right, the head is in a much better position. From there, all Kevin needs to do is to bring the club down on the ball without shifting anything.

The result? Purely struck shots that resembled F-14s taking off an aircraft carrier.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Most Important Club(s) In Your Bag

Much has been made of the saying "Drive for show, Putt for dough."
Either, that saying needs to carry a caveat - ceteris paribus - or else its just a thoughtless quote.

If you can't drive the ball far and straight enough, then however many putts you make on the green will be meaningless. Who wants to be 6 on and then 1 putt on a par 4 / 5? Not me for sure.

The most important clubs in any golfers' bag are the driver (or equivalent), wedge and putter - in that order.

Here is why...

The Driver

One needs to put the drive reasonably far off the tee to have a chance to reach the green in regulation or be near it. It pays to ensure that your driver's loft and shaft flex and weight are suited to your swing speed. Most amateurs use too little loft and too stiff a shaft.

The Wedge

If you miss the drive and send it careening into the woods, after a little punch-out (hopefully no heroics here), you will most likely be left with a 50-60m shot to set up a par putt. Here is where the wedges will come in handy.

If you did put your drive in the fairway, but missed your approach to the green, you would still likely need to use your wedge for a pitch shot or some kind of chip to the green to again set up your par putt.

Here, most amateurs are unsure of how far and how fast they need to swing their wedges to achieve the required distances. The wedge game is unlike the normal iron shots where they are typically swung with full swing. The wedge game is an intricate web of different swing lengths, swing speed, ball positions etc to achieve a plethora of high, low, running, spinning shots for different distances to put the ball close to the hole.

I have shots for 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110 programmed into my arsenal of wedge shots. Using a combination of 4 wedges, 3 different swing lengths, 3 finish positions, I have a wide range of shots at my disposal for the situation at hand.

Once you put the ball on the dance floor, its time to think about sinking that sucker for birdie, par or bogey.

The Putter

For a scratch golfer, 36 or half of his shots are made on the putting green. If a 24 handicapper quits 3 putting just 9 greens, he would have become a 15 handicapper overnight. What better way to stop 3 putting than by FIRST putting those wedge shots within 8-10 feet where your percentage of sinking them is 50%?

The next steps to becoming a wizard on the greens are:

1) Read the line of the putt. Most people take too little break. Take more break, gravity can at times help pull the ball into the hole.

2) Feel the distance of the putt. Walk from where your ball is to your target (break or hole). This will allow your brain to register the distance required to stroke the ball.

3) Make a putting stroke that is arcing, not a straight back and straight through type.

4) Make imaginary putts. If your putt needs to travel 40 feet, look at the halfway mark of that, which is 20 feet. Make an imaginary stroke and try to "feel" how much force is needed to stroke the ball there.

If you know what gets the ball to 20 feet, just a little bit more will send the ball 30 feet (which happens to be the next halfway point between 20 feet and the final target) right? Again make an imaginary stroke.

Finally now that you have a reference for 30 feet, you now need to have a stroke reference for 40 feet. Go ahead and make that imaginary stroke again.

Now look at your final target and make that reference stroke. Think only in terms of making a beautiful and unhurried stroke. Hopefully the ball went in!

If you follow these keys, its unthinkable not to have your handicap drop.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Importance of A Centered Head

Traditional golf instruction has a golfer move his head to the right in an attempt to "coil", get a bigger "X Factor" or "Y Factor" or "O". On the surface, while it seems that this is reasonable, it actually creates more faults than it cures.

At address, before the golfer does anything, he has actually matched his head position and more specifically his left shoulder with the ball position. To move the head and as corollary, the left shoulder - which is the low point of the swing, where the club bottoms out - one would then have to move the ball to maintain this synchronicity, or risk hitting it thin or fat.

What typically happens then is that the golfer will either have to sway his head and left shoulder back to the left on the downstroke or "get stuck" if he doesn't have the adequate physical capability to sway back on time.

The first option has its own pitfalls, instead of a "pure" sway that is the mirror opposite of how he moved his head to the right, Joe Hacker will utilize the right shoulder in a roundhouse fashion and cut across the correct swing plane.

Another thing that can happen is that he overcooks the sway and moves his low point way ahead of the ball and hit half tops. This of course is a better option than hitting it fat as the ball should run out to almost where it would be had it been struck properly.

The most egregious of effects produced by a moving head would be its companion, the dip as the golfer initiates the downswing. The end result of which is a fat shot, or if the golfer bends the left wrist or left elbow to prevent bottoming out before impact, weak, high powerless shots.

The next time you get to the range, watch to see if your head is moving out of position. The head should be centered between your feet, the way it would be when you are brushing your teeth.

On your backswing, the head should feel centered while your back should feel like its turning to face the target. From there, the downswing should be reflexive with plenty of lag. Hold your finish as your shot takes off with a crack like an F14 taking off into the distance.