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squat for power
By: Sean Foley
Tiger’s dip can add distance to your game
Nod of approval: Tiger’s head dips as a result of squatting. Then he pushes up to create power.
One of golf’s oldest clichés is “maintain your posture” throughout the swing. The in-tent of the message is good: To help amateurs avoid rising out of the address position–either from a lack of hip flexibility or because they’re trying to help the ball into the air. But keeping your head level might be robbing you of some distance.
What you want to do is squat as you swing into the ball. This move is similar to what any athlete would do before leaping. Many long-ball hitters drop several inches as they start the downswing. Tiger Woods has been doing it throughout his career, and it has served him well.
Essentially you’re creating an explosive action by lowering and then pushing off the ground. It helps you swing into the ball with considerable force. If you were to maintain your posture, it would be impossible to get to the ideal low point of your swing, four or five inches in front of the ball.
If you want to understand the science behind squatting, here it is: Bending your knees lengthens your quadriceps (thigh muscles), and hip flexion lengthens your glutes (buttocks). You’re now in a position to contract these muscles in an upward thrust and deliver a lot of energy into the shot.
So the next time you swing, pretend there’s a banana lying lengthwise under your front foot. Your goal is to squash it as you swing down. Do this, and you’ll really compress the ball.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR GRIP
Most golfers tighten their grip as an unconscious response to fear and doubt. In a heightened state of tension, blood leaves the capillaries in your hands and supports your vital organs and their functions. When this happens, you lose some feeling in your hands, and the natural reaction is to grip the club tighter to try to regain it. My advice is to constantly check your grip pressure because it changes all the time. The more aware you are of gripping the club too tightly, the better chance you’ll have of making a good swing and releasing the club at a consistent point.
Original Source: GolfDigest
Swing Consistently
Get better swing plane where it matters, near the ball
By Matthew Rudy
The same few words seem to pop up when describing Bryson DeChambeau’s game: Unique, quirky, or even strange.
What isn’t strange are the results. DeChambeau won his third career PGA Tour event at the Northern Trust, smashing the field by four shots with elite ball-striking using his single-length Cobra irons. DeChambeau hit 16 greens on Sunday on his way to his fourth round of 69 or lower at Ridgewood Country Club, and he made just six bogeys on the week.
The precision and consistency in DeChambeau’s game comes in part from his determination to make every swing on the same plane—literally. “I’ve run his swing on my 3D analysis software, and Bryson is literally more planar than the swing robots they use to design clubs,” says Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Michael Jacobs. “Even if you wanted to try to do that yourself, I don’t think the average player has the coordination. He really is unique.”
But even with DeChambeau’s idiosyncratic method, there are things you can take away and use to tweak your game. “What gets weekend players in trouble is pushing and pulling on the club with too much force that’s perpendicular to the direction of the swing,” says Jacobs, who is based at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club in Manorville, NY. “That forcing of the club makes the club respond ‘out of plane,” which requires you to make a compensating move to recover.”
You don’t need to try to get your swing on a consistent plane throughout, as long as you can produce more consistency through the “execution phase,” says Jacobs—which is about hip high to hip high. “That’s where swing plane really matters,” he says. “Film your swing from down the line, with the camera on the ball line, and practice making swings where the club doesn’t move very much off the plane line in that phase. That’s going to come from a more neutral address position, where you aren’t aligning your shoulders, hips and feet at different targets, and from more neutral body motions. Get that phase down and you’re going to hit much more consistent shots.”
Original Source: GolfDigest
cure the shanks
The fix for golf’s worst shot
By Keely Levins
We know, we know. You don’t even want to talk about the shanks for fear bringing the subject up will cause you to catch them. But like it or not, you might find yourself in a situation where you’re going to want to know a solution. Though awful, the plague of the shanks is curable.
First thing you have to do is take a break from the course. You need some alone time to sort this out on the range. Start by checking in on a few basics. Make sure you’re standing tall with your chest up during the swing, don’t hold the club too tightly, and make sure your weight isn’t sneaking up towards your toes. David Leadbetter told us that not tending to all of these little things could be the root of your struggles.
He also gave us a drill that will cure your shanking woes.
Set up like you’re going to hit it, and then put a tee in the ground just outside the toe of the club. While you’re swinging, think about keeping the grip end of the club near your body. “Miss the tee at impact, and you’ll hit the ball in the center of the face,” says Leadbetter.
Article By: GolfDigest
doorframe golf swing
Learn how to turn back, not sway.
Let’s talk about hip turn. James Kinney, one of our Golf Digest Best Young Teachers and Director of Instruction at GolfTec Omaha, says that from the data GolfTec has collected, they’ve found lower handicap golfers have a more centered lower body at the top of the swing. Meaning, they don’t sway.
If you’re swaying off the ball, you’re moving yourself off of your starting position. The low point of your swing moves back when you sway back, so you’re going to have to shift forward to get your club to bottom out where the ball is. That takes a lot of timing, and is going to end up producing some ugly shots.
So, instead, Kinney says you should turn.
“When turning your hips, you are able to stay more centered over the golf ball in your backswing and the low point of your swing stays in the proper position, resulting in consistent contact.”
To practice turning, Kinney says to set up in a doorway. Have your back foot against the doorframe. When you make your lower body move back, your hip will hit the door fame if you’re swaying. If you’re turning, your hips are safe from hitting the frame.
Remember that feeling of turning when you’re on the course and your ball striking is going to get a whole lot more consistent.
Original Source: Golf Digest
hit with power
By Staff
When it comes to improving your swing with irons and hybrids, you have a useful training tool at the ready: your golf bag. At the range, stand your bag up and address a ball with your backside pressed against the bag. Take the club to the top while keeping your right cheek touching the bag. As you swing down and through impact, smoothly transfer contact from your right cheek to your left. Try to feel as though you’re rotating around your spine instead of moving laterally toward the target.
By remaining in contact with the bag, you’ll maintain your body angles longer on the downswing and have an easier time releasing the club and making solid contact. You’ll also train the pelvis to stay back instead of thrusting forward toward the ball—a common downswing fault known as early extension that leads to weak shots to the right. Think “cheek to cheek”— your ballstriking and accuracy will thank you for it.
Keeping your backside in contact with the bag throughout the swing—first with your right cheek, then with your left—lets you maintain critical body angles farther into the swing for more accuracy and consistency.
Article By: Golf.com
Lie Detector

By: Dave Pelz

One of the things that separates Tour players from the rest of us is that the former are intimately familiar with their games. They know how different shots will unfold regardless of where the ball is sitting, especially around the green (where difficult lies abound). Not surprisingly, that’s where weekend players tend to cough up strokes.

There are four parts to every short-game shot. Failing in any area will almost surely lead to a poor result. They are:
1. Judging the lie.
2. Selecting a club.
3. Predicting how the ball will react when it lands.
4. Executing the swing.

Take a ‘lie-detector’ test to improve your short game

This article addresses the first — and perhaps the most important — part of the shot equation. If you can’t pull off good shots from bad lies, you’ll never reach your scoring goals.

In my opinion, the only way to develop this skill is through experience. Pros have the advantage of unlimited practice time, but you can begin to catch up with a simple three-shot experiment that I use in my schools. Its entire purpose is to open your eyes to the various backspin outcomes that can be created by the type of lie you’re facing.
For this “Backspin vs. Lie” experiment, you’ll need your lob wedge, a tee and three balls. Select a 20- to 30-yard shot around a green that forces you to carry a bunker but that provides plenty of room between the apron and the pin. Drop one ball into the rough, another into a normal fairway lie, and tee up the third so it’s about a half-inch above the grass (photo, above). The goal is to land all three shots in the same place on the green, about a third of the way from the edge to the flagstick. (Repeat any shot that misses the landing spot.)

Once you’re successful from all three lies, check the results, which should look something like what’s pictured in the photo at right. What you’ll notice is that the shot from the rough rolled out the farthest — the mass of grass that wedged its way between the ball and the clubface at impact killed most of the backspin. The shot from the fairway stopped short of the first, even though it landed in the same spot. That’s because you generated much more backspin due to the cleaner lie. And for the teed-up third ball, which had zero grass on the clubface to interfere with contact, you created max backspin and stopped the ball almost immediately after it hit the green.

Of course, you never get to tee up your wedge shots, but that’s not the point. What this exercise teaches is how lie effects spin, and that controlling spin is the trick to hitting short shots close. It’s an invaluable lesson. Try it from different distances using different wedges. The experience will turn you into a cagey vet in no time.

Original Article By: Golf.com

meditation

By Sam Weinman

An experiment with three golfers revealed the practice can make a difference. Just not the one you might expect.

 

A few months ago Golf Digest set out to answer a question almost as old as the game itself: does alcohol make you play better, or worse? The experiment and resulting video with three too-eager participants, was illuminating, comical, and fairly conclusive: a little bit of “swing oil” has some residual benefits owing to a decrease in tension and inhibition. Too much, however, leads to deteriorating focus and coordination, and then you just stop caring about advancing the ball at all.

 

A subsequent experiment with marijuana yielded similar results: some weed might take the edge off and loosen up your swing, but anything more than a little becomes counterproductive.
That brings us to our recent experiment exploring the effects of meditation, structured like the first two, but also plenty unique. Here, too, we submitted three golfers of varying playing ability to a series of golf tests while interspersing the influence of an outside element–beers and tokes became 15 minutes of meditation. The difference is that while meditation does induce some immediate physiological effects and boasts several long-term health benefits, we’re still talking about a rather nuanced exercise that is difficult to quantify. And if you really wanted to measure it well, best to do it over a few months instead of a couple of hours.

 

Still, a few hours is what we started with one day this summer, and I, along with colleagues Keely Levins and Ben Walton, was selected as one of three golfers who would spend the day hitting golf shots and meditating to see what type of difference we’d see. Although Keely and Ben had limited experience with meditation, I’d recently begun dabbling in no small part because mindfulness, as it’s also known, has been hailed as perhaps the best way to temper the freneticism of our modern lives. And no doubt I was a worthy candidate: a digital editor who spends his days tethered to one electronic device or another, a father of two high-energy boys, and someone who can overthink everything from family dynamics to what club to hit off the tee. As I said in the video, I first told my wife that I thought meditation would help because, “I run pretty hot during the day.”

 

“No,” she corrected me. “You run hot all the time.”

 

So in terms of how a few minutes of meditation a day can calm the mind and harness focus, I was already sold. What I hadn’t explored, and what we sought to discover that day, was how it might affect one’s performance on the golf course. Plus, we saw it as an opportunity to debunk misconceptions about meditation — what exactly it is, what you do, and why it might mesh well with the mental and emotional demands of golf.

 

The day was broken into segments of three different golf challenges–driving for distance, approach shot accuracy, and putting–followed by brief sessions with meditation teacher Jonni Pollard. Pollard is the founder of a meditation app, 1 Giant Mind, and a personal mentor to a roster of clients that includes corporate executives and professional golfers. With a clean-shaven head, an Australian accent, and an affable manner, he spent the day convincing us of the ways meditation can not only help us think clearer on the golf course, but at work and home as well.

 

Among Pollard’s central arguments is that for all our technological progress, the human body has remained virtually unchanged from man’s earliest days fending off regular physical threats, which is why we process stress the same whether it’s an unpleasant email or a bear attack. This disconnect between how we live now, and the biological constraints of our bodies and brains, can explain why we often feel scattered so much of the time, and why even the mundane stresses of everyday life can elicit profound physical reactions.

 

“This is the little glitch in our system,” Pollard said. “We are entrenched in a dysfunctional state of defensive living because the way we’re living now is so far removed from how we’ve biologically evolved.”

 

What does this have to do with our ability to hit a drive in the fairway? Plenty, actually, because the same forces that leave us feeling frequently disjointed also factor into our performance on the course.

 

Almost every golfer has to negotiate the chasm between the shots he’s capable of producing, and the those he actually hits. We’re too quick, we’re too distracted, we’re worried about the pond on the left–when the result falls short of our potential, it often emanates from somewhere between the ears. By contrast think about the time you mindlessly hit a shot on the range and it soars perfectly off the clubface; or when you rake in a conceded putt from afar without even trying, and it rolls straight into the hole. It’s precisely because you “weren’t thinking” that it worked out so well.

 

This, Pollard said, this is where meditation can make a difference.

 

“What it does is it hits factory restart and restores our natural capability,” Pollard said. “Our natural capability is there and we need to allow it to be there, so what is the thing that’s inhibiting it? From my perspective it’s the hyper stimulation of the thinking mind.”

 

Which is not to say that each meditation session sets you on a path to a truer golf swing. Not exactly at least. As the afternoon unfolded, my driver carry improved, but my approach shots were looser, and my putting stayed about the same. To think of meditation as some type of performance enhancer in deep-breathing form is to misinterpret the underlying machinations at work. As Pollard said, when you meditate for 20 minutes, focusing on your breath or a mantra and allowing outside elements to recede into the background, it’s similar to doing a set of bench presses at the gym. The act itself may make you stronger, but it’s really repetition and time that allows the effects to take hold.

 

“The conversations I like to have when talking about meditation is one, it’s really wonderful to alleviate short term the symptoms of stress,” Pollard says. “But also it creates the internal infrastructure for us to be able to become resilient in this life, rather than feel like life is taxing you.”

 

Beyond technical improvement, what we really detected was an underlying sense of calm, noteworthy on what could have been a stressful day. Although Keely played college golf, Ben and I were not used to the strain of having every shot measured so precisely. Throw a handful of cameras and a crew of about 10 into the equation, and under normal circumstances I’d question if I could even draw the club back. But after each session with Pollard we began to mind the attention less, and distractions subsided.

 

“It became easier to be over the shot,” said Keely. “I had this odd sense of detachment to where it was going, like I didn’t want to look at the result. Not every shot was great, but there was some freedom and ease in not feeling painfully invested in how straight my drives were flying.”

 

This is what Pollard means when he describes the “infrastructure” meditation helps construct. Scientific studies of meditation have shown that the practice strengthens the pre-frontal cortex portion of the brain responsible for concentration, focus and problem solving while shrinking the amygdala section that triggers our panicky “fight or flight” response. So even though I didn’t hit the ball markedly better that day, the ingredients were all there to do so–I was more focused, less fatigued, not nearly as wrapped up in the shot I just hit or the one still to come.

 

And therein lies the real breakthrough, because golf is nothing if not an opportunity for self-sabotage. You start a round poorly, you stress over wanting to play better. You start out playing well, you wonder how long it will last. Pollard and other meditation experts like to say that the practice improves “present moment awareness,” which is a variation of the old golf cliche of “taking it one shot at a time.” Roll your eyes if you must, but think about how much easier the game would be if your mind were free of competing narratives and you just played.

 

Our Max Adler played a round of golf last year with Sadghuru Jaggi Vasudev, a spiritual leader with millions of followers and a surprising affection for golf. Adler attended one of the guru’s workshops to better understand how Eastern practices like meditation can translate to athletic performance. Sadghuru, too, emphasized the value of getting out of your head.

 

“People trip on their own minds,” Sadghuru said. “They need to create a little distance between what they think and what they do.”

 

So, to get back to the original question: Does meditation help you become a better golfer? The short answer is yes. The longer answer might be encapsulated by an experience from a few weeks after our session with Pollard, when I developed a wicked case of the shanks.

 

For about 10 days in the heart of the golf season, I had a hard time hitting an iron or wedge without the ball screaming off the hosel right into some unspeakable place. Golfers who’ve experienced the dynamic know no more maddening affliction, and in the grips of it, I couldn’t hit a simple 30-yard pitch without panicking. Then I recalled an exercise we learned with Pollard for right before address. We’d stand behind the ball, place both hands on the grip of the club, and take in a deep breath before proceeding. For an entire round, I did this over every shot –a mini-meditation session that attempted Pollard’s version of “factory restart.” My head clearer, my breath slower, the panic receded, and solid contact soon returned.

 

So if you’re asking, no, I don’t think you can measure the efficacy of mediation by saying it will drop this number of strokes from your score. But what I have noticed is that it can work to flush out our worst instincts–both on the course and everywhere else. I, for one, need all the help I can get.

 

Original Source: GolfDigest