Direction to better scoring
By Tim Mahoney
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.
Controlling Trajectory in the Short Game
In executing short game shots, inside 50 yards (pitches and
chips), a player’s ability to control the ball’s flight trajectory can be just
as important as controlling the ball’s direction and overall distance. A golfer has options to create consistent
ball flight trajectory and as a result consistent shot patterns swing after
Option One – Ball Choice:
A golfer’s choice of golf ball will have an affect on a golf
ball’s flight characteristics. It is the
dimples on a golf ball that are responsible for its flight
characteristics. Their design (size,
shape and pattern) will help dictate the ball’s trajectory. The size and depth of the dimples affect
performance. Shallow dimples generate
more spin on a golf ball than deep dimples, which increases loft and causes the
ball to rise and stay in the air longer and roll less, which is advantageous
when playing to elevated greens. Deep
dimples generate less spin on a golf ball than shallow dimples, which decrease
loft and causes the ball to stay on a lower trajectory, with less air time and
greater roll, which is advantageous when playing to low elevated greens.
Option Two – Ball Position:
A correct ball position helps you contact the ball crisply and
achieve the proper trajectory on the shot.
Ball position affects the path and the angle of approach the club takes
into the ball which ensures a consistent loft angle of the club at impact. With the ball positioned too far forward,
your shoulders align left of the target, thus creating a swing path that is too
steep and out-to-in. If you locate the
ball too far back toward your right foot, your shoulders are closed, which
creates a swing path that is too shallow and in-to-out. You will be able to produce consistent ball
flight trajectories only if the ball is positioned correctly in your
stance. For chip shots, position the
ball about two inches back of center.
You want to strike the ball with a descending angle of approach creating
a low trajectory, running shot. For all
wedges and pitch swings from normal lies position the ball in the exact center
of your stance.
Option Three – Swing Technique:
To create a low trajectory chip or pitch shot, set your
hands slightly ahead of the ball. A
forward hand position will naturally de-loft the clubface, helping to start the
ball on a low trajectory. Also,
concentrate on making a rhythmic swing with a slightly slower tempo on the
forward swing. A slower tempo will
produce less spin, helping to keep the ball on a low trajectory. Stay level with your hips as you swing
through impact. Feel as though the
handle of the club leads the clubhead through the hitting area to prevent adding
loft to the clubface at impact. A low
trajectory shot means a low finish. The
lower you want to hit it, the lower you want to finish, not only with the hands
and arms, but with the clubhead as well.
While it is okay to play the ball back in you stance to produce a lower
trajectory, it is not advantageous to play the ball forward in your stance as a
means of getting a higher trajectory.
Playing the ball forward in you stance moves it ahead of the bottom of
your natural swing arc. To hit a higher
shot, the first choice should always be to take a more lofted club and make
your standard swing. The second choice
is to open the clubface, aim your swing line to the left of the target and keep
the ball exactly in the center of your stance.
Keeping the ball in the middle of your stance ensures crisp contact.
Option Four – Club Selection:
The easiest way to vary shot trajectory from a normal lie is
to choose a higher degree lofted club or choose a lower degree lofted
club. If you need a higher soft landing
shot, choose a lob (60 degrees), sand (56 degrees), gap (52 degrees), or a pitching
wedge (48 degrees). If you need a lower
running shot, choose a 9 iron (39 degrees), 8 iron (34 degrees), 7 iron (30
degrees), or 6 iron (26 degrees). It is
easier than creating a different swing or changing your mechanics. Clubs are designed with the clubface having
different lofts. It is loft that makes a
golf ball take flight on an ascending trajectory, not an upward direction of
swing. The club actually hits the ball in
a horizontal or slightly downward angle.
Choose the option that works best for your game. Your golf ball selection will be based on the
design of the golf course that you’ll be playing. Under normal lie conditions, you’ll want to
maintain a consistent ball position for crisp club to ball contact. Vary the length of your swing technique to
produce low or high trajectories. And
choose your club wisely. Practice with
different lofted clubs and observe the ball flight trajectory patterns. Take your observations to the golf course.
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.
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.
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