Archive for the ‘A+Featured Swing Tips’ Category

I found my SWING!

Friday, November 13th, 2009

You know, you have one of those days when you find your swing, every swing feels effortless, you can hit every shot at the target.  Today was such a day for me, let me share you some insights what I tried to do today.

For one, I haven’t hit balls all week due to me playing with new gadgets such as my new Canon 7D DSLR.

I felt really fresh heading out to the range and even felt a little out of it since it’s been so long (like 3 days) without hitting golf balls.

Last time I was at the range, I remember hitting a lot of balls and trying to hard.

There was a time when I used to swing effortlessly and shoot under par every time I played.  Well, today I tried that.

Instead of trying to “perfect” my swing mechanics (and btw, there is no such thing as perfection in golf, pros have only tried to set some guidelines but that is really all, guidelines, no swing guru can tell you how to swing perfectly in reality.), today I simply tried to develop a swing that was more effortless, like how I used to hit the ball.

When you try to swing effortlessly, a great thing happens, you can literally hit ball after ball and you never get tired.

Anyways, this is what it felt like:

First, I relaxed my hands throughout my swing.  This allowed me to naturally get into the right positions during the swing without tension creeping in.

Second, I felt like my backswing was like holding a basketball and simply turning to the right. (on my plane created by my spine angle)

I really felt like I was swinging a basketball and not a golf club, meaning it felt like I was using my body.

Third, I simply try to hit the ball as solid as I can without trying to do too much.

When I did these things, something wonderful happened, that is I felt like my head and body was no longer restricted.    I didn’t look up but immediately after I hit the ball after impact, I felt like I was coming up on the shot but it felt so “right” and “comfortable”.

Before, I was all trying to keep my spine angle consistent.  And you know what happens when you do that, you might hit the ball good but you are putting awful lot of pressure to your lower back plus when you are tired, you tend to slap at the ball with your hands.(especially under pressure)

Instead, I put the pressure off my lower back by simply standing up more after impact.

Let’s just put it this way, I had the best ball striking day this year.  I hit 2 jumbo buckets today and I feel like I didn’t even hit balls.

This could help you, perhaps you want to try less next time you practice and let natural instincts take over.

I will have a video soon, I know this will look much better than my last swing video so hopefully tomorrow!

How to Practice at the Driving Range!

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Click Here to View in Full Screen Mode

Here’s a video I shot today of me hitting a 6-iron knockdown shot to a target about 165 yards out.

From just a look, it might look like I am not doing much but if you look carefully, here’s what’s going through my mind on each shot.

Before each shot, I take 1-2 practice swings visualizing how I will hit the ball, even the trajectory of my ball.

Once I am ready, I will take a look at my target.

Then, I will make an imaginary line from target to my ball and pick a spot about 2 feet out from the ball, that’s where I will align the clubface.

After aligning the clubface, I will take my stance parallel to my target line.  (You will see I am aligned perfectly parallel to the yellow target on each shot.)

Then I align all of my body parts such as shoulders and hips again “parallel” to my target line.

Then I take a waggle.

After hovering my clubhead over the ball (or taking just enough weight off it) I will start the swing with my whole body.

Once I reach the top, I will start the downswing with my hips then follow through with my whole body.

One thing I am not doing today I realized after taping is that I am not using my lower body through the shot, my right foot should stay to the ground more after impact.

Well, this shows how many things you should be focusing on before you even hit a practice shot, I am just telling you. :)

Btw, my cheap tripod fell off during the middle of the video, I didn’t realize until end of the practice, sorry.

Ben Hogan’s Swing Plane, Tiger Wood’s Swing Plane – What you should Really Know about Swing Planes!

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Here’s something that could be helpful for those of you who think there’s a perfect plane to a golf swing.

The simple answer, is that there is no perfect plane in a golf swing.  For one, Hogan claims in his book that the reason he used the swing plane concept was to get his backswing in a “consistent slot” but not an effort to say there’s such thing as a perfect plane.

Also, as you can notice in the pictures below, depending on your height and build, your swing plane may be flatter or more upright than the standard so there’s no use in trying to copy your favorite pro’s swing plane unless you are exactly the same height and build.

plane

plane-2

You can easily see that Tiger’s legs are noticeably longer than his upper body length compared to Ben Hogan.  Because of this, Tiger’s swing is naturally more upright than Ben Hogan’s.  Also, Tiger is 6′ 2″ while Ben Hogan is 5′ 8″.

These vast difference in physical makeup prove that there’s no such thing as a perfect plane for any golfer.

The swing plane I used in swing analysis was to simply have a reference point of how the golfer is swinging but in the recent months, I’ve began to realize that it’s not the most important factor in a good golf swing.

I’ve seen a ton of great swings that are far from golf norms, some way too flat or some way too upright.

The bottom line is, you need to build a consistent golf swing, not a swing that depends on lines drawn on the computer.

If you can hit a 200 yard target with a 4-iron 10 out of 10 times and you have what I think the worst swing in golf, I will not tell you to change your swing.

However, you can’t do that and your head is filled with swing mechanics garbage, perhaps I will tell you to focus on golf swing basics.

Golf swing basics consist of your grip, body action, and starting your downswing with your hips followed by your upper body.  In simpler terms, the more you can build a “consistent” swing, however you do it, it will work.  But you can’t really get consistency by building a perfect swing, there is no such thing.  Everyone has their own quirks and personal touch.

I’ve fiddled with a high-speed digital camera for about 10 years, trying to perfect my swing.  Sometimes I try to copy Tiger’s or Ben’s but none of those things ever seemed to bring consistency.  I threw my high-speed camera away and started building a golf swing I felt was more natural and right to me and I think I am on my way to a more consistent golf swing.

Don’t copy but learn and apply the basic fundamentals, that’s what they did too.

Lastly, a “swing plane” does help me “visualize” a consistent path for my backswing and that is really its real purpose so I can get consistent results.   If you keep drawing lines on your golf swing video/photos, it ain’t gonna help you with your golf swing.  Your swing might look “great” but underlying performance probably won’t improve at all.

Find a swing plane that works for you, find the one that you hit the best, crisp shots with both irons and woods.  Then stick with that swing plane.  It’s that simple. And I could really care less if you swung like Jim Furyk or Ben Hogan if you can hit the ball good.

I use Ben Hogan’s Grip!

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

hogan's-grip

Because I tend to hook a lot, I’ve recently switched my grip from normal (where both Vs point to your right armpit) to a slightly different one where the right hand “V” points to your neck as seen above. (This is the one Ben Hogan used back in the day because he was a wild hooker.)

This would be considered slightly “weak” grip as it will promote more of a fade shot but I’ve had some good results with it so I am sticking with it for now.

Btw, your grip will dictate your swing so if you have a weak grip, you might hit the ball better with a flatter swing whereas with a strong grip, you hit the ball better with an upright swing.

For example, Freddy Couples has one of the strongest grips on Tour, he has a very upright swing.  I can’t think of anyone using a “weak” grip, perhaps Vijay Singh?

Well grip is your life for a golf swing, without the right grip for your swing, you can’t hit the ball good.

So practice your grip daily, 10 minutes a day, hold an invisible golf club or hold one while you watch TV.

Grip, is everything.

I am getting that new Canon 7D camera soon so hopefully I will have some better shots of golf basics starting next week, happy golfin’!

Feeling of “Light Hands” at the Top of Your Backswing!

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

One fo the best swing thoughts that have worked for me regardless of how I am swinging over the years is “lights hands” at the top of your backswing.

Having “light hands” at the top of your backswing can help you do one very important thing right.  By having your hands light at the top of your backswing, you will easily be able to start the downswing with your lower body instead of jerking it with the hands or the arms.   You will probably have more clubhead speed too because your arms  are not inhibited by your hands being too “tight”.

Being too “tight” with your hands is one of the worst things you can do in golf although that might be the right way to swing a baseball bat.

So next time, try this simple tip, feel as if your hands are barely holding the golf club at the top of your backswing.  All the things I’ve been mentioning about swinging with your body, the hip slide/turn and starting the swing with the lower body, this simple tip will help you accomplish that.

How to Learn and Master the Hip Slide and Turn!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Last time I mentioned how you must start your downswing with your lower body in order to hit the golf ball from the inside out.

Well, one of the ways to mastering your downswing with a lower body start is to master the “hip slide” and turn.

First, watch this video as Ben Hogan himself shows you how to do this:

Click Here to View in Full Screen Mode

Let me re-cap what Hogan is trying to teach you here.

Try doing this as an exercise for mastering the hip slide and turn.

First, get to the top of the backswing like Hogan is doing here:

topofbackswing

Then from there, initiate your downswing by turning and sliding your hips towards the target and the rest of your body such as shoulders and arms, should simply follow the action of your lower body.  Really “feel” the pulling of the upper body by the lower body when you do this.  And also try to do it in a “smooth” and fluid motion, jerkiness won’t help at all.

Another thought, try to really imagine your club coming from the inside-out angle, this will help you to promote an inside-out swing, something we want in an ideal golf swing.

Now, after you get to the point where your clubhead reaches about the hip level, you can start releasing your upper body and the club somewhat towards the right of your target.

hip-slide

After you try this in slow motion couple times, go ahead and try hitting a golf ball in full speed.  Now, this is the most important part of mastering the hip turn and the slide, learn how to “time” your upper body release just like when you throw a baseball pitch.  With proper timing of your release after the hip turn and slide, you will be able to hit the ball accurately towards your target.

Another good exercise is to try different timings such as try releasing your upper body a bit early for right-to-left shots (draws) and a bit late for left-to-right shots (fade).

FYI, Ben Hogan used to release a bit late so he can hit slight fades as his nemesis was hitting bad hooks earlier in his career.

You can also vary how “far” your slide your hips forward to control the flight.  A word of caution when you do this, you need to still keep your body in balance and the easiest way to do this is to keep your upper body “up” while” you swing.

How to Change Your Golf Swing On the Golf Course!

Monday, October 26th, 2009

One of the most tragedies you will face in golf is when you try to “change” your golf swing on the golf course because you are mishitting shots left and right.

I know this blog post is labeled, “How to change your golf swing on the golf course”, but that is actually the LAST thing you will ever want to do.

The best way to actually change your golf swing without changing it (really) is to SLOW DOWN your backswing.

That’s right, 99% of amateurs swing too fast when playing on the real golf course because it’s human nature.

The next time you hook or slice your drive OB, I want you to take a deep breath.  Then, without changing your swing, simply slow down your backswing about one pace.

When you slow down your backswing, you essentially swing down your whole swing.

Part of mysteries in golf is that your heart beat simply beats faster when playing real golf.  Hence, without you knowing, you subconsciously swing a tad faster than you did at the driving range. (when you hit those perfect shots)

If you hit 3 shots in a row really bad even after slowing down your swing, I would say even then do not try to change your swing on the golf course.  Instead, play that error whether it’s a 50 yard slice or hook.  (As I did outline in my free E-book by the way, highly recommended for those of you who haven’t.)

Remember, when you slow down your body, your heart beat slows down too.  Other than that, try to slow down everything else you do including walking.

Breathing deep 4 counts in and 4 counts out also helps, something a lot of the tour guys actually do including Paul Azinger. (who mentioned this was one of his most breaking techniques to make it to the PGA Tour in his book Zinger.  By the way, Paul Azinger is one of my all-time golfing heroes, he’s also probably the Tour’s only golfer with super-closed clubface at the top, everyone said that wouldn’t stand under pressure.  Paul Azinger won enough PGA Tour events to prove otherwise.)

How to Control Distance and Trajectory of Your Iron Shots!

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

This one is pretty simple but learning how to control distance of your iron shots is one of the most effective ways to control your distance and also trajectory.

For example, you have 150 yards to the pin from the fairway.  If you hit your 7-iron 150 yards with a full swing, that’d be good to use on a sunny day with absolutely no wind.

On the other hand, let’s say there’s a heavy 20MPH wind going against you on the 150 yard shot.  You could possibly hit another club and hit your 6-iron with a full shot or hit the 6 or 5-iron with a half swing, which will result in lower trajectory  and your shot won’t be affected by the wind.

Most of the time, I choose to go with the latter, choosing a much lower-numbered club and hit it with either 3/4 or 1/2 swing.  This is usually called a “knock-down” shot and it’s imperative that you learn how to do this if you want too be a good all-around player.

For example, if you play in super-windy areas like Texas, you don’t have a choice but to deal with 30+MPH winds on a daily basis.  You need to hit the ball lower but hitting a full shot won’t help you do that.

Although you could put the ball back in your stance and make a full swing at it, because you are still swinging “full”, the amount of backspin put on the ball will be too much and affected too much by the wind.

So, you need to learn to control the distance and trajectory of your iron shots.

How to do this?

Very simple actually, just take a shorter backswing.  But you will need to practice often on the range in order to “control” precisely.

Next time you go out on the range, don’t simply bang full-swings, see if you can hit the same target with different clubs, with different length of backswings.

If you have not tried doing this before, I assure you, you will won’t be too accurate, so practice makes perfect.

For example, when I go to the range, I will hit to a 150 yard target with my 8-iron. (with a full swing)  Then, I will take a 7-iron and also hit it 150 yards but with shorter backswing, which results in lower trajectory.  I will also take a 6-iron and take even short backswing.  Usually, I go about up to 3 clubs down before I move on to my next target.

This is not only great practice for your overall “feel” for distance and trajectory, now you potentially made new arsenal of shots in your golf bag.  Instead of just having 1 full shot from each club, you potentially now have multiple uses with each club.

Having more weapons in your golf bag means more ways you can attack the pin on the golf course.   Also, let’s say you have an approach shot with a tree hanging over about 30 yards out, perhaps this isn’t even a challenge to you because you have a shot in your bag with the right distance and trajectory to hit it under the tree and still get to the green.

Another great use for length of your backswing is as a swing thought.  Instead of filling your mind with too many things, simply think of the “length” of you backswing when hitting a golf ball on the course.  This will allow you to really be able to focus on one thing, that of controlling your distance.

The rest of the swing should be pretty easy and automatic if you have been practicing your fundamentals and needless to say, the less you think about your golf swing on the course, the better you play.

Well, keep practicing different lengths and trajectories by simply limiting how far you swing back.

Happy golfin!

Swing Tip – How to Swing with Your Body!

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Last time I mentioned how you should be starting your downswing with the lower body.  Well, the next step is to learning to swing with your body.

To do this, when you swing, you want to feel like every part of your body is moving “together”.

For example, when I swing my best, I feel that my belly button, legs, shoulders, arms, and hands are all moving together.  This will feel together but in reality, your upper body will always be moving faster because they are on the most outer side of your centrifugal force.

There’s a very simple exercise you can do with a ball, perhaps a basketball or a medicine ball. (or even a basket)

Simply hold a basketball and turn the basketball to the right using your body, meaning your belly, shoulders, arms, and hands.  You should be able to turn the basketball using the large muscles in your body.  Your hands actually do nothing in the process except hold the ball.

Then turn the ball to the left using your body.

This is actually a great exercise also to build golf muscles if you use a medicine ball or a ball with some weight to it.  (I used to use a bowling ball to do this too.)

Here’s some screenshots of how to do it right:
(Please don’t mind my outfit, this is my daily casual wear while I blog at home so…)

swing-body-1

(At address)

swing-body-2

(Turn to the right, if you use your body to turn to the right, both of your hands would be facing 90 degrees away from your starting position.  Now, this is crucial that you get it right.  If you don’t do it right, you are not using your body to turn so hence beats the point of this exercise.)

swing-body-3

(Turn back to the left like you are shaking hands with someone on the left.)

Doing this exercise 10 minutes daily can help you swing the golf club more with your body.  The “feel” of this exercise is exactly how you should swing the golf club with your body, not with your hands or arms only.

By the way, you don’t have to do a full swing with this exercise, just focus on the body turn and really feeling BOTH of your shoulders turning.  A lot of hackers and amateurs don’t turn BOTH of their shoulder, causing all kinds of havoc like banana slices and hooks.  Plus, you LOSE a lot of your power if you don’t turn both of your shoulders.

Also try to really feel that your “belly button” is controlling the turn of your body.  When you use heavier weight, that will also help build the correct abdominal golf muscles.

And lastly but not least, GO SLOW, the point of this exercise is to use your body, if you go fast, you will inevitably end up using your arms or hands, something we don’t want in our golf swings.

Also if you don’t have a ball to do it, you can use an imaginary ball.  Perhaps you are at work and you want to practice swinging with your body.  :)

Swing Tip – How To Start the Downswing with Your Lower Body!

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Today I hit the ball fairly, radically rad and great.  I’ve probably never hit the ball so crisp.  Another point is that now I can actually control the trajectory of my golf ball better.

To be able to do all those, you will need to learn how to start your downswing with your lower body.  This is one of the crucial golf swing movements you will need to learn if you want to hit the ball super crisp.

What is “super crisp”?

That’s when you smack that golf ball right in the sweetspot of your golf club and you can “feel” the solidarity of your hit.  It feels so good, I can probably say it’s better than sex.

Besides that, you ball flight won’t be affected as much by wind or anything for that matter and for people watching this super crisp hit from the side, you will certainly hear a nice “swoosh” sound as the golf ball takes off straight to its apex and looks as if it drops straight down, lifelessly.

Sounds like something you want to learn?

Well, I’ve got the secret for you, you need to be able to hit the golf ball from the inside-out and to do that, really, you need to learn how to start the downswing with your lower body as Ben Hogan said about a thousand times in his book Five Lessons (very good book by the way, most of my golfing theory comes straight from that book.)

How to “feel” your lower body starting the downswing?

To feel your lower body starting the downswing, here’s a simple exercise I actually do.

First, swing your golf club to the top slowly.  After you reach the top of the backswing, pause slightly.  Then, start the downswing by rotating your lower body(and also a bit of weight transfer to the left foot), specifically the hips to your left and let your shoulder, arms, and hands follow that rotation, all in that order with the lower body always leading the downswing.

I know it sounds slightly confusing but go grab a golf club and try it.

Now, keep rotating those hips and the rest of your upper body *SLOWLY* until you reach the point where your golf clubhead is about waist height.  Your hands and the golf club should form a 90 degree angle, this is called “LAG”.  If not, make sure there’s 90 degree angle.  This should happen naturally if you lead your downswing with your hips.  If you didn’t, ultimately you won’t have the “LAG” and that means you broke something in the process.  Do this until you can get it right.

Now when your golf clubhead is at about waist height, you no longer need to lead the downswing with the hips because it will probably impossible as your upper body starts catching up near impact.  At this point try to feel that “ALL” of your lower body (hips) AND the upper body and turning simultaneously together and SWINGING OUT towards the right field. (Like I told you here on swinging the golf club inside-out.)

When you do this right, you should feel some kind of “torque” on the golf club as you downswing.  This is caused by your lower body starting/leading the downswing.

Do all the above steps until you can get all the parts I outlined right and you get a good feel for it.  Start with a slow swing then steadily increase the speed of your golf swing.

Keep practicing until you can record in your muscle memory.

Now, don’t think about anything and just hit the golf ball normally.  Your muscle memory should “automatically” start your downswing with your lower body.  If your body doesn’t keep practicing in slow motion after each ball hit on the driving range until you “get” it.

Once you master this method of starting your downswing with your lower body, you should be able to hit the ball straighter, further, and also be able to control the ball better.

The greatest part about swinging like this is that once you master it, you can hit the ball as hard as you want AND your ball will go even straighter/longer.

Of course, this is something I learned from Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.  He doesn’t outline every step but I have added some exercises that can help you feel what he’s trying to teach in his book.

After I started doing this instinctively through practice, I began to realize how much better I can fade/draw the ball while I could also control the trajectory better.

There, I just told you the secret to hitting that golf ball like a pro, now go practice.

Btw, my golfing career is coming along now, I am hitting the ball better than ever, my putting is superb with my new method of using mostly hands.  (I will have a blog post on how to putt like a pro soon.)

Good luck on improving your swing and don’t give up after 100 swing, try at least 10,000 more swings. :)

benhogan

(Image Credit) – Click to Enlarge – Watch carefully how Ben Hogan leads his downswing with his lower body and look at that big LAG he’s generating!