By Tim Mahoney
Consistency is the number one goal of all players from Jordan
Spieth to Jack Nicklaus. Distance,
Direction and Trajectory make up the elements of the ball-flight. Golfers need all three elements for
consistent ball striking. I believe that
the sequence of learning is: trajectory,
distance and direction. The three
components are interrelated and we cannot have one with out the other.
Trajectory is controlled by:
Selection- the club is designed to provide loft. Allow the manufacturer to get the ball
of Approach- the correct angle of approach provides solid impact and the proper
consistency starts here. Grip, posture,
ball-position, aim, mind-set and tension level are the fundamentals of the
plane- a vertical swing shape will produce high shots and a flat swing shape
will produce lower shots.
speed- without swing speed the golfer has a difficult time producing loft. Golfers with a limited swing speed will
produce the same trajectory for all clubs.
Distance is controlled by:
Selection- longer clubs longer shots.
of motion- increased range of motion will assist in distance.
of contact- hitting the ball in the center of the racket. Path and plane are significant
influences. Vertical plane produces toe
hits and a flat plane produces heel hits.
speed at impact. Body rotation, arm
speed and wrist movement are the biggest influences. Overall swing speed is a goal not club head
Direction is controlled by:
parallel lines of the eyes, shoulders, forearms, hips, knees and heels.
alignment at impact. Clubface at right
angle to your swing path at impact.
path at impact. A swing path that is
from the inside to along the target line to the inside.
Every golf lesson and group activity I participate in every
golfer is in search of consistency. Ball
flight has three elements: trajectory, distance and direction. You master all three in order to gain
Impact for Consistency
As you watch golf on TV across all the different
professional tours, you will see different grips, postures, swing shapes and
ball flights. Regardless of the differences in all the unique swings, there is
one constant in all good ball strikers – they look identical at impact. Perfect
impact and your ball striking will improve.
Impact position consists of: a forward leaning shaft, hips
open to the target line, shoulders square to the target line, left wrist flat
and right wrist bent. Establish the
angles and plane during the backswing and maintain these angles at impact. Anticipation of the strike or an in-correct
mind-set will create impact misery and inconsistenctcy. Simply rehearsing impact or an isometric
exercise will assist you with your impact goals. Start at address and move into impact
A drill that will assist you with the motion of impact and
correct alignments is making small swings into an impact bag. Allow the power sources to accumulate on the
back swing and turn into impact. As the
club strikes the bag, note: a forward
leaned shaft, flat lead wrist, hips open and shoulders square.
All golf swings are different: upright, flat, close faced or
opened face. But all great ball strikers
are perfect at impact. Work on impact
and your scores will lower.
Direction to better scoring
All gofers no matter what the handicap level should attempt
to control distance and direction. An
improvement in consistency is the effect of a compatible golf swing. When golfers attempt swing changes without
regard to keeping a balanced or compatible swing, inconsistency is the
result. Golf swings can be upright, Jack
Nicklaus, flat Ben Hogan, shut face David Duval or an open face Nancy Lopez; as
long as all the parts are compatible consistency is the result.
A weak grip should be balanced with a forward ball position,
centered pivot, open face, swing path that is out to in and aggressive hand
action through impact. A stronger grip
should be balanced with a centered ball position, closed face, path from in to
out and an aggressive body motion through impact.
There has never been a perfect golf swing, and probably
never will. Keep your golf swing
balanced and compatible and you will have consistent results.
Golfers are constantly striving for more distance. Trying out new clubs, improved physical
conditioning and the latest secret in a golf publication in an attempt to add
an extra 10-20 yards. All of these
changes are good, but the number one influence on distance is a combination of
club head speed and solid contact. One
without the other simply results in short off line tee-shots.
Speed is the effect of wristcock, arm swing and torso
turn. Maximize all power sources in a
balanced manner will result in an increase in speed. Solid contact is the result of a path that is
from the inside to along to inside.
Swing the club on the manufactured angle with the arms in front of the
trunk will produce the correct path, resulting in a square hit.
All golfers should be striving for balanced controlled
distance for improved scoring. Club head
speed combined with solid contact is a guaranteed means of increased distance.
Ben Hogan’s Plane of Glass
By Tim Mahoney
The legendary golfer and technician Ben Hogan in 1946
developed the swing concept of an angle the club needs to swing: Swing plane or simply the shape of the
swing. Throughout the years a debate has
developed regarding the angle or plane of the swing: 1 or a 2 plane motion. Within the Mahoney and Troon Golf Academy we
believe that it is not a 1 or a 2 plane motion, simply an on-plane swing that
is determined by the club and your posture.
The angle or plane that you swing the club on determines the centerness
of the strike, the ability to square your club face at impact and the amount of
divot. Swing plane is not a ball flight
law, but simply, a golf swing preference.
The backswing plane can be viewed as an inclined angle taken
at address running up the shoulders from the ball. The left arm controls the shape of the
backswing, the shoulders, arms, hands and club should rotate and swing on this
angle and not deviate from the intended angle.
Swinging on this determined angle will allow the upper and lower body
the ability to turn freely on both sides of the swing. Once golfers understand how to swing to the
top of the backswing they will solve consistency problems.
During the downswing motion, the golf club MUST swing under
and below the back swing plane. The
shallowing of the club on the downswing is a significant power boost at
impact. The slight lateral shift of the
hips towards the target as the upper body is turning back, allows for a
“flattening” of the downswing plane. As
the hips are sliding laterally, the right elbow connects to the side as the
left hips turns behind. Hands or
shoulders starting the downswing establishes an over the top or steep
angle. Steepness in the downswing causes
toe hits, open club face and a decrease in club head speed. Create a flatter downswing as compared to the
backswing results in greater power and consistency.
Drills that will assist in creating this angle: baseball swings above the ball and chip shots
where the club stays below your hands on both sides. These drills will allow you to focus
primarily on the shape of the swing and the intended plane.
Club face, angle of attack, centeredness of hit, club head
speed and swing path are the ball flight laws that effect every shot from a
putt to a chip, to a full drive. Ben
Hogan’s plane of glass or swing plane is every gofer preference to golf
excellence. Swinging the club on the
intended angle, determined by the club and your posture will provide longer,
straighter and more solid strikes.
Fairway bunker shots are regarded as some of the more
difficult in the game. Adding distance,
a high lip and a difficult lie and the task is almost impossible. There are several myths when it comes to
fairway bunker shots, and I hope to dispel some of those this week. Golfers, must keep in mind, when facing a bad
lie (bad lie is defined as when there is question about the lie), the first
objective is to advance the ball to a good lie.
Second objective, never attempt a miracle shot after a poor one. Finally, never attempt a shot that you have
not practiced. Keeping these objectives
in mind, fairway bunker shots will become an easier task.
When faced with a fairway bunker shot, preparation is the
most important element. Keys for the
choice- take enough loft to clear the lip.
Golfers should never hear “ball-thump.”
As a reference 1 more club should be utilized. High lofted fairway woods are an excellent
club of choice, assuming limited loft is need.
the golf ball back in your stance. Your
impact objective is a steeper angle of approach, striking the ball first and
sand after. The rearward ball position
will assist in steepening the angle.
down on the club. Shorten the club about
an inch. The shortened club will reduce
the chance of striking the sand prior the ball.
your feet into the sand about an inch.
The lowering of your feet will reduce the amount of lower body motion
during the swing. Excessive amount of
lower body slide will result in an incorrect bottom of the swing.
your body weight towards the target. As
you lean your weight allow the grip end to move towards the target. The weight and the hand adjustment will move
your swing bottom towards the target, resulting in a steeper angle of approach.
The adjustments in your set-up will steeper the angle
resulting in ball/sand contact.
Checkpoints during the motion:
a balanced swing. Holding your finish
until the ball comes to a rest guarantees success. Inability to hold the finish is an indication
of an out of balance motion.
the upper body to wind against the lower body on the backswing. The lower body must resist and hold. The coil generated is a power source. If the lower body does not hold, the swing
bottom will occur behind the ball, resulting in sand and ball contact.
swing posture throughout the motion.
Turn the upper body on the backswing and clear the lower body on the
forward side. Golfers must maintain
their measurement and posture throughout the motion. A conscious attempt to lift the ball will
result in a shallow angle.
Golf is a unique game, due to the fact; they never face the
same shot twice. Consistency is the
result of developing a repeating swing motion. Pre swing adjustments are
utilized when faced with different lies.
Golfers should 1 swing with different set-ups. Perfect your swing, make a few simple address
adjustments and the fairway bunker shot will be a simple one.