Let the club do the work? I don’t think so.

I have never been a fan of  the phrase “Let the club do the work”.  Let’s try something to test my theory:  Go to the range and place a ball on the ground.  Then place a 7 iron on the ground next to the ball.  Now watch what happens.  Go ahead….let the club do the work.  Still waiting?  Amazingly the club does nothing until you pick it up and swing it.  I know this is a ridiculous example, but hopefully I made my point.  If you want to hit the ball up in the air and with distance, you have to swing the club with a lot of speed.

In all my years of teaching, I have rarely seen anyone generate too much clubhead speed.  I have seen people turn their hips too fast or fire their hands too quickly at the top of the swing, but rarely do I tell anyone to slow their club speed down.  To hit the ball far, you need to swing the club close to your maximum speed.  The pros on the PGA or LPGA Tour are probably swinging at 90-95 percent of their maximum speed.  It looks easy because they are so efficient and in perfect balance.  The average swing speed on the PGA tour is around 110 miles per hour with a driver.  That is not swinging easy or “letting the club do the work”.

When your swing is off and your impact position is out of alignment, you will have mis-hits.  If you swing slower, your miss-hits won’t go as far and therefore won’t go as far off-line.  This is only a band-aid at best and will do nothing to get you back on track and closer to your potential.  I have a case study that I want to share with you and it involves a minor swing flaw and swinging too easy.

I was working with Jeff the other day at the Cricket Club.  He is a smooth swinging lefty and he told me that he was hitting his driver well, but he lost some distance with his irons.   I put him on Trackman and saw that he was hitting his 7 iron only about 110 yards on average.

Here is a picture at impact and the numbers for the first few shots that Jeff hit.

Jeff S Impact Jeff S start stats

After looking at the TM numbers, the biggest thing that stands out is the Attack Angle of -8.3.  With a 7 iron, that is very steep.  An Attack Angle of  -4 to -5 is common for good players with excellent impact conditions.  Jeff is moving in front of the ball a little bit which is causing the ball to be struck with a more descending blow.  It would be the equivalent of moving the ball back in your stance 2 or 3 inches.

The low Launch Angle, Carry Distance, and Trajectory will all go up if he stays centered and keeps his head still.   He focused on making a better turn on his backswing and made a few swings while I held his head still.  The next 6 shots were recorded on Trackman.

Jeff S head still stats
As you can see a few things changed right away.  Attack Angle shallowed out to -4.9, Carry went up 9 yards, Launch Angle went up to 14 degrees, and Trajectory (Height) went up about 7 feet.  Pretty good change after 6 swings!  Once Jeff was comfortable with the change (which didn’t take long), I discussed that to hit the ball farther he will have to swing faster.  We worked on this for a few swings and then recorded the next 5 or 6 shots.  The transformation was AMAZING!

Jeff S faster stats
What a change from the start of the lesson.  All of the numbers are better and his shots were much higher, longer, and straighter.  Club speed only went up 6.4 mph, but because he was hitting it more solidly and launching it better, he picked up over 30 yards of Carry and the Height of his shots almost doubled.  Jeff really felt like he was swinging hard at the end, but he was still in balance.  We now have a great baseline number that he needs to be at.  I know Jeff has a little more in the reserve tank and can get it up to over 80 mph, we just need to keep working on it.  Below you will see a massive difference in the Trajectory and Carry Distance.  Start – White, Head still – Yellow, Faster – Purple.

Jeff S Trajectory
In conclusion,  when things get off track a little bit and you find yourself hitting it shorter, it is most likely because you have developed a swing flaw and are compensating by slowing down your swing speed.  The thought of “letting the club do the work” can actually help with your mis-hits (they won’t go so far off line), but it will not help you in the long-run.  Get your swing back on track and work the club faster through the ball.  Don’t let the club do the work for you.  It’s just not that good without your help.

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Training for the 2013 golf season starts now!

I am very excited to announce that we have set up our indoor teaching facility at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.  We will be teaching in the Militia Hill Clubhouse in the winter months and will be preparing our students to play their best golf ever in 2013.

pictures - videos from Galaxy Oct-Nov 2012 943

pictures - videos from Galaxy Oct-Nov 2012 940

There are many advantages to training indoors:

1.  You are in a controlled environment – no wind or distractions
2.  We are using premium golf balls.  That’s right – Brand new Titleist Pro V1s
3.  You are not worried about playing.  It can be tough to make a swing change when you are trying to play.
4.  We can work on your total game – Putting, chipping, pitching and full swing.
5.  Did I mention it is 72 degrees inside? every day?

cricket winter setup 006

Training with Trackman is the ultimate way to get your game in shape.  You can work on increasing your distance, improving the trajectory and curve of your shots and becoming more consistent.  You can really take your game to the next level and train like the pros.

indoor at cricket

I have a screen shot of a sample of shots taken from the Trackman Combine test that I took on Thursday.  This is the screen you will see when you hit your shots.  I have a monitor that sits on the ground so you can watch your ball fly after it hits the net.

Indoor Trackman screen
The Trackman Combine is a great way to test your ball striking and see what you need to work on.  Trackman has just introduced the indoor version of this test.  They now have a world-wide online leader board for the Combine.  You can see how you rank against other players of your handicap level.

Don’t spend another season shooting the same scores and being frustrated with your game.  I see so many people over the course of the year spending countless hours on the range trying to “find it”.  They hit hundreds of balls and then finally hit a good one and think “Oh yeah, I found it”.  Unfortunately, most of the time they didn’t really find anything, they just timed everything perfectly for one shot.  If you focus on making a change that directly affects the way the club impacts the ball, then you have truly “found it”

It really comes down to physics and all the ball knows is what the club tells it at impact.  If you don’t know what your club is doing or what it is supposed to do at impact it is rather difficult to hit the ball with any consistency or with the flight that you want.  Take the guesswork out of your game and get focused on improving this winter.

If you are interested in taking lessons this winter give me a call at 610-246-7331 or send me an email at manderson@pcc1854.com.  I am looking forward to helping you with your game.

Mark

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Rake leaves to improve your golf swing!

Who knew that raking leaves could help you with your golf game?  Every fall most of us spend hours raking leaves in the yard.  Why not use this as time to work on your golf swing as well?

There are many power sources in the golf swing, but the main things that determine your clubhead speed are your weight shift, body rotation and hand speed.  If you work on improving your core strength, you will hit the ball farther.  When you are raking leaves, engage your core when you are moving the rake.  This will get your lower body to simulate the action in the golf swing.  Shift your weight and turn your body when you are raking and you will be able to push the leaves with more power.  If you work on this movement it will help you with your swing and could translate to more distance the next time you play.

My kids (7 and 9) wanted to be in one of my videos, so I let them film this video for me.  Forgive the shaky moments with the camera.  At the end of the video, they show you how to really have fun with the leaves!  Thanks Ryan and Corey!

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Don’t hit it in the water!

How big of a tip would your caddie get if his last words to you before you teed off were – “Don’t hit it in the water”?  Most of you would be shocked if your caddie ever said that to you, but how many times have you said something like that to yourself?  When we are faced with a difficult challenge like hitting the ball over the water, we sometimes get too focused on the consequences and not the process of executing.  IMPORTANT information ahead – Your brain is going to remember the last thing that you say before you hit the ball.  If that last thing is “water”, your brain will remember that and forget about the “don’t hit it in the” part.

The simplest way to avoid this negative thinking is to focus more on the target and not the trouble surrounding it. The trouble helps to define what your target is.  If there is out-of-bounds close to the right side of the fairway, perhaps your target should be the left center of the fairway.  Pick  your target and focus on it during your pre-shot routine and when you are executing the shot.

Here is a simple plan to follow the next time you are facing a challenging shot:
Step 1.  Define your target
Step 2.  Visualize a successful shot
Step 3.  Take a practice swing and again visualize success
Step 4.  Take a deep, relaxing breath
Step 5.  Hit the ball at your target with confidence

You have a choice over every shot to be positive or negative.  Choose the positive path and focus more on your target and not the trouble surrounding it.

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Trackman Users Conference

2 weeks ago I was in Orlando for the Trackman Users Conference.  There were about 100 Trackman users and guests in attendance and it was a GREAT learning experience.  The highlight for me was watching PGA Tour player Kevin Streelman hit balls with his coach Darren May.

They explained how they use Trackman to help Kevin with his game.  Using parameters they have measured when Kevin is playing well, it is easy for them to figure out what they need to work on.  Kevin hit a few balls and worked his way up to the driver.

Kevin’s main issue is that he tends to fire his right hip out towards the ball causing him to lose his spine angle at impact.  This move causes his hands and the shaft to raise up as he comes through the ball.  This leads to a flippy release at the bottom and shots that can go both left AND right.  They don’t use video to look at this, they rely on the numbers that they get from Trackman.

The number they were looking at was the Swing Plane number.  This is basically the angle of the shaft in relation to the ground as the club contacts the ball.  A higher number would be a more vertical shaft position (90 degrees would be straight up or perpendicular to the ground) a lower number would be a flatter angle (0 degrees would be parallel to the ground).  About 45 degrees would be good for a driver.  When Kevin is playing well, his Swing Plane with the driver is 44 to 46 degrees.  When he starts to lose his spine angle, his Swing Plane number gets up to 49 or 50 degrees.  I have a swing of Kevin’s on Trackman and his Swing Plane is 46.1


The day we were at the conference, Kevin’s Swing Plane was in the 48 – 50 range.  He had not worked with his coach in about 3 or 4 weeks, and he got away from what he was working on.  Knowing what his numbers are gives him a clear picture of what he needs to work on.  They were heading to the range later in the day for a 4 hour practice session.

What a great and simple way to stay on track with your game.  Most people take lessons when they are playing poorly.  How helpful would it be to take a lesson when you are playing your best and document your numbers.  You can see what your parameters are when you are swinging well and then if you get away from that you will clearly see what you need to fix.

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Mark Anderson joins MyPhillyGolf.com as Teaching Professional

I am very excited to join the team at MyPhillyGolf.com as the Teaching Professional.  I am looking forward to contributing golf tips, videos and my thoughts on golf instruction, professional golf and golf in Philadelphia.  It is an exciting time for golf in the Philadelphia area and no one covers it better than MyPhillyGolf.com.

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Tee Height

How high should you tee your ball?  High enough! How is that for an answer?  All kidding aside, it will vary for different players, but generally speaking, you should tee your ball high enough so that when you hit the ball you are contacting the ball slightly above the sweet spot of the club.  This will cause the ball to launch higher and will reduce some of the spin on the ball.  This type of shot – High launch, low spin is the magic formula for longer tee shots.

A good guideline for tee height is to tee the ball high enough so the middle of the ball is at the top of the driver.


This is a good starting point for most players, but you need to take it a step further.  You need to find out where you are hitting the ball on the face to find the optimum tee height for your swing.  The best way to do this is to use a dry erase marker and cover the face of your driver.  After you hit a few shots, you will notice where you are hitting the ball on the face.  Ideally, you would want to hit the ball slightly above the center of the face to get the high launch – low spin shot.

If you have a driver with a black face, I have found that a neon colored dry erase marker shows up really well.  If you have a grey or silver colored face a black dry erase marker will work great.

Check your tee height and where you are contacting the ball on the face and you could make a simple adjustment that could add some serious distance to your tee shots.

Watch the video below to see what a difference the proper tee height can make.

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