Archive for the ‘Swing Tips’ Category

The Importance of Elbows in a Golf Swing!

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Today, while hitting about 300 balls at the range, I began to realize that my elbows were a large part of the golf swing.

For some reason I can’t explain, I started hitting the ball really great when I felt like my elbows were in sync.

Well after tinkering a bit, I came to an answer, the elbows play a big part in your golf swing. Even Ben Hogan was once quoted saying that he used his elbows as part of his swing thought. (By the way, that swing thought was imagining a dot on both elbows and making it point up at the sky on both backswing and followthrough, you can read about that in the book, The Man Behind Mystique, perhaps the best book with a ton of still photographs of Hogan. I used to read it like everyday when I was in high school.)

What do the elbows do?

Actually they don’t do much, it’s not what you do with them but how elbows act in relation to rest of your golf swing.

In layman’s terms, you want to keep the elbows the focus of your golf swing. When your elbows are in sync, you move your body in sync. When your elbows are in sync, you can turn through the golf ball without any manipulation in your hands.

So how to do this?

After a bit of practice, I found that the “length” between your elbows must be constant throughout your golf swing.

Try it next time you are on the range, try to keep the length between your elbows constant. And feel like there’s a string attached between your elbows and keep them taut the same.

After you get the feel for your elbows being in sync, you don’t want to think about it. What I do is at address, make sure to feel the elbows together and parallel to my target. Once I get that feeling at address, my body instinctively try to keep my elbows in sync throughout my swing.

This motion of keeping elbows in sync has done some wonders for my golf game, especially my driver because it makes you swing in the correct swing path.

Well, another great day for my golf game. I will be heading over to South Korea a bit next week (not for golf) but will be back soon!

P.S. A great way to really understand what’s going on here is to actually open up your latest cover of Golf Digest and see some still photographs of a PGA golf pro and watch their elbows, you will see what I mean.

Playing with Fire!

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Okay, the reason why today’s post is called “Playing with Fire” because today’s practice session literally felt like that.

For the first time in my life, I could “feel” my hands and clubhead “lagging” behind my lower body and I could sorta control it.

What happened?

Well, you know the other day I told you to have more fun and showed you my new trick shot? It turns out to hit that trick shot, my body had to do some intuitive moves, that of really starting the downswing with the lower body and making sure the clubhead never “releases”.

Oddly, I tried that same move on my full shots and boom, I felt like playing with fire, or that thing Ben Hogan doing in his still photos, lagging the crap out of his arms and hands before impact.

Anyways, here’s the swing thoughts that made it happen:

#1. Feel like at downswing, your right elbow touches the tip of your right hip. When you do this, you HAVE to start your downswing with your lower body.

#2. I am usually a bad cocker, I mean I don’t usually cock my wrists all the way on my backswing. Well, today I made sure I cocked all the way BEFORE starting the downswing, this helped me because now I can cock all the way and on the way down, just turn my body without worrying about releasing the club.

#3. On the way down, DON’T consciously try to release your right hand, do the opposite. What this will do is make you turn through more with your elbows and body instead of breaking down and breaking your right hand.

This should help you scratch golfers and single-digit handicappers. But don’t try it if you still can’t break 80. Nothing personal, just sayin’ this blog is about “advanced” golf.

How to Pronate!

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Pronating is a word I think invented by Ben Hogan.  It’s the act of keeping your left wrist flat or even at unnatural negative angle while swinging through the ball.

I’ve tried countless times to add pronation to my golf swing in my 20+ years of golfing life but always gave up because I couldn’t really do it.

Well today while practicing, I “naturally” achieved it while trying to hit my short irons dead straight at the target.

Instead of “pronating” what I did is to feel like the hands and the clubhead become near vertical at impact while the clubhead lags behind the hands.  Incredibly, when I did this, my short iron shots started going dead straight.

I slowed down that action and right before impact, I could see my left hand was “pronated”.   I started using this type of action on all my shots and guess what, I am hitting the ball straighter than ever.

I guess it took me 20 years to realize what pronation is but it’s not the result I think, it’s how you get there.  For me, that meant feeling like my hands and clubhead were near vertical at impact.   This seems like an action that will break your left wrist more than anything but go try it next time you are on the range, your shots will start shooting out like bullets!

Anyways, just wanted to share with you what I’ve learned today at practice, I finally figured out how to pronate and hit my short irons dead straight.

How to Practice Golf!

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Today was one of my better practice sessions at my local golf range.   For the first time in 3 years, I paid $5/30 minutes to practice my short game first.  Yes, in San Francisco, you have to usually pay to practice on the greens or your short game.

Anyways, I am sure many of you are city slickers like me trying to wing away your short game while you play on the golf course.  Don’t DO THAT, that will be one of the major reasons why your score never improves.

When I used to live with my parents, it was all FREE, I mean I used to practice my putting, chipping, sand shots, and my pitching shots for FREE at their local country club.   And yes, it’s not been like that anymore but no matter whether you have to pay or not, you NEED to practice your short game at least half the time.

So what?

If you want to lower your golf scores, you need to hit the practice green more often than hitting your irons or driver on the range.  I know, it’s fun, it’s fun to hit that 350 yard drive over the driving range fence or stick a 4-iron 200-yard sniper on the sign itself but in reality, it boils down to your short game.

The only person who might have gotten away without a short game in history of golf?

Maybe Ben Hogan, at his best, he hit like all the greens in regulations.  But trust me, no one can beat Ben Hogan, that is why he is a golfing legend.

The bottom line is, you can be better simply by being better around the greens.  And how many times can I tell you that game of golf is played with the putter and the wedge?   Too many, watch out for more blog posts titled, “how to practice golf” and more words on why you need to practice your short game.

And oh yeah, finally getting back into golf, I haven’t touched a golf club since last August I think, but I will be playing some events this year finally.

How Does the Correct Downswing and Follow-Through Feel Like?

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

There’s nothing better than knowing exactly how to “feel” the downswing or the follow-through.  Most golfers end up manipulating the crap out of their downswing and follow-through (even myself at times) that they have no chance of hitting the golf ball squarely on the center of the clubface.

So, how does the correct downswing and follow-through feel like?

There should be absolutely no manipulations of your hands, shoulders, stomach, thighs, and legs.

You should feel like there’s a central core that moves everything.  Think of it this way, imagine your hand holds 5 yoyos and at the top of your backswing, each of the yoyos represent your hands, shoulders, stomach, thighs, and legs.   Now, since the 5 yoyos are attached to a string, how will you move your body so that you can swing the 5 yoyos through while keeping the string taut?

The only way you can do that is by swinging with your body or having a “feel” that there’s a central core (somewhere inside your chest like the middle of your chest) swinging the 5 yoyos.

In other words, in a correct downswing, there’s absolutely no “tension” if any of your body parts that are controlled by your central core.

There’s a lot of golf teachings out there that teach you to swing “inside-out”.  Now, this isn’t something you can do by manipulating your body, it’s only result of going through the correct golfing motions.

*Note – Swinging inside-out has more to do with the rhythm of your swing than mechanics.  I will have more on this later.

So, stop trying to much when you are following through, and let your hands, shoulders, stomach, thighs, and legs turn naturally through the shot.

One swing thought I use often to let this natural process happen is to simply think of transferring my body weight to my left foot (while keeping everything else passive). What this does is get me in the correct downswing motion with the lower body while preventing manipulation of my upper body.

I know, sometimes the golf swing is a lot simpler than you think, just think “transfer weight and turn your whole body onto your left foot” and let everything else follow.   This also means you can/should “feel” that your hands are light while doing so. Keeping your hands light will keep your shoulders, stomach, thighs, and legs light and prevent them from manipulating your downswing and follow-through.

Well, if you get confused, just remember my last paragraph I’ve outlined in bold and make sure you try it next time you are on the range or the golf course.

How to Swing With Your Body!

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

For those of you who want to really learn to swing with your body, you will want to read the rest of this blog post.

To really swing with your body, there’s one exercise I do and let me tell you how to do that exercise.

First, I want you to setup with a golf club (any will do) and take your address as if you are going to swing a real ball.

Second, I want you to grip it with both of your hands like you would normally then take your left hand off there while leaving your right hand on the golf club.

Third, I want you to use your body to move your shoulders, arms, hands, and the golf club to the top of your swing very, very slowly.  Let me emphasize again that you want to do this as slowly as possible and feel all your big muscles like the torso and the core of your body doing the turning of the backswing.

Also when you use your body to get to the top of the swing, I want you to really “feel” your body “turning”.

Can  you feel it yet?

If you can feel it, that’s how you swing a golf club with your body.

For the downswing, it’s the same thing, you use your body to control the downswing.

Why is this so important?

Because when you swing the golf club with your body, you will be able to swing the same way time and time and also be able to hit the ball longer, straighter, and effortlessly.

Also if you tend to take a lot of time from golf like I have been, it simply makes sense to have a golf swing that’s easy to repeat and uses your body as control point.

Anyways, I’ve been using this new swing (that I’ve forgotten) lately and hitting like every fairway, flawless iron shots that “nip” the grass just right.

Try it, really, and I bet it will help you feel what the correct golf swing motion is like.

How to Swing Without Using Your Hands!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

In golf, using your hands on the downswing too much or manipulating them can be one of the worst things you can do. In fact, that’s what 99% of golfers actually do, uncock their hands first from the top and then wonder why they didn’t hit the ball far enough nor straight.

Today, I realized something about my golf swing, something I used to do, that is to swing without using your hands.

How to swing without using your hands?

It’s easy, don’t use your hands on the downswing.

What I do is actually think of my hips turn instead. From the top of your backswing, all you really need to do is think about your lower body “clearing” or in simple words, turning towards your target. The rest of your body should follow and you shouldn’t need to “consciously” think of your hands at all.

So, next time you head out to the range, don’t swing with your hands, it can only hurt you.

Ernie Els Swing Analysis!

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Well, I haven’t done much swing analysis for years but let me start it up again, we can never learn enough from the pros.

Check out Ernie Els here.  Although he hasn’t been doing much lately with golf world, he has one of the best “big-man” swings in the world.

At address, you can see Ernie Els looks very comfortable, knees bent a bit, nicely balanced and hands freely hanging from his shoulders.

At take away, you can see that all Ernie did was rotate 90 degrees to the right with his triangle formed by the shoulders, arms, and hands.  Also notice that his clubface is perpendicular to the ground, perfect takeaway.  You will want to copy this exact move.

From takeaway, Ernie will take it up a bit upright to his true swing plane.  This is what David Leadbetter teaches (preachs).

At the top of his swing, you can see Earnie’s perfect in-align with his true swing plane and notice that his club is also parallel to his feet and target line.

From here, all Earnie can do is hit the ball straight and far.

Half way down, you see Earnie’s dropped his arms hands beneath the swing plane.  This is perfectly fine for an inside-out hit.

Right before takeaway, you see Ernie has delayed his wrist cock till the last minute and “notice” his clubface is still perpendicular to the ground.  This is an “ideal” position for just before impact.

Gotta love this position where, Ernie’s both arms are almost extended fully while matching his swing plane.  Did you know that on a full shot, your hands actually come up a bit due to centripetal force applied?  This is why the swing plane is matching the impact.

This is also important to see, after impact.  You see how Ernie’s clubs are slight outside the swing plane?  This means that Ernie just swung about 2-3 degrees inside-out, which is what you want to maximum accuracy and power.

Ernie Els finishes up his swing nicely on his left.  Indeed, Ernie has a couple majors to win soon, I am sure counting on him! :)

Getting Your Swing Plane on Track!

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

After struggling with my swing, especially my driver for months, I’ve finally managed to get my long drive shot back.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t duffing my driver or anything but for the last couple months, I couldn’t hit the driver as long as I used to near 300+ yards and with an effortless swing.

There was something “missing” with my golf swing and for last couple months, I’ve never missed a practice session on a daily basis.

Anyways, I did figure out exactly that yesterday, and boy it was one of the best days in my life!

So, let me just tell you what happened.

First, I got to the range and hit about 150 golf balls. Something just felt weird that day and I couldn’t hit the ball like I wanted to. It felt like my rhythm was gone and all the stuff I have been doing went to pieces.

I felt a but frustrated so I hit another 100 golf balls. Of course, even after hitting so many balls in one day, my swing didn’t feel 100% right.

Finally, I gave up and headed to the short game practice area so I can practice some chipping and pitching.

On the practice green, my chipping had become a lot better over the months and I was able to hit many great chip shots within inches of the cup.

Here’s where it ticked me though, while I was trying to practice these impossible flop shots over the bunker with literally just 5 feet of green to work with, I found a swing that would allow me to hit the ball perfectly and effortlessly. TWICE, I hit the pin and many times, I was able to hit this new flop shot I was working on within inches of the cup.

As I was working on the flop shot, my instincts took over and my swing felt like it was on a “track”.

Right after that, I kept thinking to myself, “what if I use this same swing on my full shots”?

Immediately, I bought another 50 golf balls and headed back to range. My stomach was growling really loud at this point but I was too sure that this new “swing” I found while hitting a flop shot is it.

So, I tried my flop shot swing on the range, and guess what! My swing felt like I was on a “track” and I hit the ball really great, especially with driver, where I can “feel” the solidarity and just rocketed off the sweetspot.

This feeling of ball “sweetness” was what I had been looking for the last 3-4 months.

The big question, “how did you do it”?

So here’s what I did for the flop shot, I just took my regular chip shot and extended it.

The flop shot actually isn’t much more than opening your clubface and using your regular golf swing. There’s a more “riskier” of using your wrists only but I don’t recommend that route as it’s inconsistent and I know this because that’s how I started hitting flop shots 20 years ago.

Here’s exactly how it felt to me:

At address, I simply start my whole body, including my tummy, upperbody (where triangle formed by your shoulders, arms, and hands move together) by “rotating” against my body’s axis slightly inside the target line.

Once my whole body (tummy + upperbod) started rotating slightly inside the target line about 2-3 feet), my body felt like it was on a “track”. I just keep the momentum of that initial rotation going and it “felt” like I was swinging “on-plane” without even trying.

After that, the downswing was easy too, just coming back in the same plane.

You know those big white circle swing-plane trainers? Yup, it felt like my swing was on that without even trying.

I think the “secret” recipe here is that I kept everything more simpler. I just made sure I started my swing with my whole body on the right “track” (which is slightly inside the target line, which is exactly where your swing plane travels) and let the momentum do the rest.

Anyways, I am not giving you tips here, I am just telling you what worked for me but you are free to try it and tell me about it if it worked well for you to.

I know, my swing thoughts/theories change by daily basis but if this new method works time and time (which I highly believe I have finally found it!), I will make sure to take a video next time and show you what I mean.

Well, gotta go hit more balls, enough talkin’, let’s do more golfin’!

How to Swing “Effortlessly” with Rhythm!

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Yesterday, I showed you how to practice with less balls (and with quality), well today, let me show you how to swing “effortlessly” with great rhythm, something that happened to me by accident.

While trying to take it slow and really focus on every practice ball I hit, one of the things I used to do suddenly hit me.   (I know, it’s slowly coming back, hitting the golf ball pure.)

When I used to hit the ball really well, I remember being able to hit every club in my golf bag effortlessly, even the driver.

Essentially, when I used to hit the ball effortlessly, I could hit thousands of balls continuously without rest.

Well, I suddenly remembered that all I did was think of an “effortless” rhythm.

I started applying an “effortless” rhythm and immediately I began to start hitting the ball pretty darn good, straight and actually longer than ever (because I was hitting the ball squarely on the sweetspot time after time).

If  you watch pros on TV, you know how “effortless” they swing.  Simply copy their rhythm and I bet you will hit the ball better.

The only way you will be able to learn the “effortless” rhythm is by seeing it in your mind and practicing it on the practice tee.

So, let me show you exactly what I mean with bunch of great golf swings that I would call “effortless” on YouTube:

Take a look at Fred Couple’s driver shot on (the first one) on this video:

That would be an “ideal” rhythm where you can clearly see Freddie isn’t trying to hit the ball hard (although he does) but has a great “effortless” rhythm.

Here’s Tiger’s iron swing back in 2005:

I like the rhythm on this one, that’s what you should be trying to look at, trying to grasp the “rhythm”.

Also check out Jack Nicklaus’s iron shot rhythm on this one:

A bit fast but the rhythm is “effortless”, you can see how smooth Jack’s transition is from the top to the downswing, that’s what you want.

Also check out Greg Norman’s short iron shot from his prime:

Greg Norman’s wedge shots are a thing of beauty, especially his rhythm, looks so “effortless”.

These are just the “best” examples I could find of many golf pros that looks “effortless”.

Watch these videos over and over and try them the next time you are on the course or the practice range.

Happy golfin’~