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The Big Shift: How to master pressure and the golf transition using prior sports training

The Big Shift: How to master pressure and the golf transition using prior sports training

Written by: Matt Strube

If you’re an #AverageJoeGolfer, work a day job, and don’t spend countless hours practicing, you might be interested in knowing that sports you played growing up, and even beer league softball skills, can be used to help you play better golf. We’re sure you’ve heard hockey players tend to hit the ball a mile, make the “best golfers”, while pitchers and quarterbacks have solid games, but baseball/softball hitters struggle with consistency. Did you know that a killer tennis backhand might help your golf game if you play from the opposite side? Dancers are way ahead of other athletes making a switch to golf because they understand that centeredness creates power and consistency much more efficiently than shifting all around, unnecessary swaying, or “happy feet.”

Lurking beneath fat shots, worm burners, and occasional shanks, are skillsets and motions you can pull from the old memory bank to apply on the golf course. Yes, you heard us right; your high school letterman jacket can finally be put to good use and help you improve your move. You just need to understand some simple adjustments different sports athletes need to make to be successful golfers.

In golf, shifting from your trailside into your lead side is what we’ll call the TRANSITION. Old School teachers refer to this motion, or shift, as “Foot Work”, New-Fangled-Techno-Jargon-Packed-Instruction uses “Ground Pressure/Force” to refer to the same concept. Don’t worry about the nomenclature; just know, as many GolfWRXers already do, that you must get your weight to your lead side if you want any chance at making solid and consistent contact. TRANSITION might be THE toughest motion in golf to master.

The good news for you is that TRANSITION happens in all other sports but in slightly different ways, depending on the sport. Golfers can more quickly learn TRANSITION, and speed up their swing learning process by understanding how prior sport experience can be applied to the golf swing.

[The basics of a solid golf move are; 1) you should have a SETUP that is centered and balanced, 2) you move your weight/pressure into your trail side during the TAKEAWAY and BACKSWING, 3) TRANSITION moves your weight/pressure back into your lead side, and 4) you FINISH with the club smashing the ball down the fairway. Okay, it’s not quite as easy as I make it sound, but hopefully our discussion today can relieve some stress when it comes time for you to start training your game.]

Baseball/Softball Hitters

Hitting coaches don’t like their hitters playing golf during the season, that’s a fact. The TRANSITIONS are too different, and if they play too much golf, they can lose the ability to hit off-speed pitches because their swing can become too upright. Golf requires an orbital hand path (around an angled plane) with an upright-stacked finish, while hitting requires batters to have a straight-line (more horizontal) hand path and to “stay back or on top of” the ball.

Now we apologize for the lack of intricate knowledge and terminology around hitting a baseball, we only played up through high school. What we know for sure is that guys/gals who have played a lot of ball growing up, and who aren’t pitchers struggle with golf’s TRANSITION. Hitters tend to hang back and do a poor job of transferring weight properly. When they get the timing right, they can make contact, but consistency is a struggle with fat shots and scooping being the biggest issues that come to mind.

So how can you use your star baseball/softball hitting skills with some adjustments for golf? Load, Stride, Swing is what all-good hitters do, in that order. Hitters’ issues revolve around the Stride, when it comes to golf. They just don’t get into their lead sides fast enough. As a golfer, hitters can still take the same approach, with one big adjustment; move more pressure to your lead side during your stride, AND move it sooner. We’ve had plenty of ‘a ha’ moments when we put Hitters on balance boards or have them repeat step drills hundreds of times; “oh, that’s what I need to do”…BINGO…Pound Town, Baby!

Softball/Baseball Pitchers, Quarterbacks, & Kickers

There’s a reason that kickers, pitchers, and quarterbacks are constantly ranked as the top athlete golfers and it’s not because they have a ton of downtime between starts and play a lot of golf. Their ‘day jobs’ throwing/kicking motions have a much greater impact on how they approach sending a golf ball down the fairway. It’s apparent that each of these sports TRAINS and INGRAINS golf’s TRANSITION motion very well. They tend to load properly into their trailside while staying centered (TAKEAWAY/BACKSWING), and they transfer pressure into their lead side, thus creating effortless speed and power. Now there are nuances for how to make adjustments for golf, but the feeling of a pitching or kicking motion is a great training move for golf.

If this was your sport growing up, how can you improve your consistency? Work on staying centered and minimizing “happy feet” because golf is not a sport where you want to move too much or get past your lead side.

Dance

My wife was captain of her high school dance team, has practiced ballet since she was in junior high, and is our resident expert on Ground Pressure forces relating to dance. She has such a firm grasp on these forces that she is able to transfer her prior sports skill to play golf once or twice a year and still hit the ball past me and shoot in the low 100s; what can I say, she has a good coach. More importantly, she understands that staying centered and a proper TRANSITION, just like in Dance, are requirements that create stability, speed, and consistent motions for golf. Christo Garcia is a great example of a Ballerina turned scratch golfer who uses the movement of a plié (below left) to power his Hogan-esque golf move. There is no possible way Misty Copeland would be able to powerfully propel herself into the air without a proper TRANSITION (right).

Being centered is critical to consistently hitting the golf ball. So, in the same way that dancers stay centered and shift their weight/pressure to propel themselves through the air, they can stay on the ground and instead create a golf swing. Dancers tend to struggle with the timing of the hands and arms in the golf swing. We train them a little differently by training their timing just like a dance routine; 1 and 2 and 3 and…. Dancers learn small motions independently and stack each micro-movement on top of one another, with proper timing, to create a dance move (golf swing) more like musicians learn, but that article is for another time.

Hockey

Hockey is a great example of the golf TRANSITION because it mimics golf’s motions almost perfectly. Even a subtlety like the direction in which the feet apply pressure is the same in Hockey as in Golf, but that’s getting in the weeds a bit. Hockey players load up on their trailside, and then perform the TRANSITION well; they shift into their lead sides and then rotate into the puck with the puck getting in the way of the stick…this is the golf swing, just on skates and ice…my ankles hurt just writing that.

If you played hockey growing up, you have the skillsets for a proper golf TRANSITION, and you’ll improve much faster if you spend your time training a full FINISH which involves staying centered and balanced.

Now we didn’t get into nuances of each and every sport, but we tried to cover most popular athletic motions we thought you might have experience in in the following table. The key for your Big Shift, is using what you’ve already learned in other sports and understanding how you might need to change existing and known motions to adapt them to golf. If you played another sport, and are struggling, it doesn’t mean you need to give up golf because your motion is flawed…you just need to know how to train aspects of your golf move a little differently than someone who comes from a different sport might.

Source: golfwrx.com

How to hit better tee shots

How to hit better tee shots

Written by: Tom Stickney, PGA

 

Better tee shots mean hitting the ball straight.

There’s nothing worse than standing up on the tee setting up for your “normal” shot shape, then hitting the deadly double-cross! So now you are left picking up the pieces of a shot that went left to left or right to right…not fun!

Here at Punta Mita we have a hole where this can happen quite often: No. 18 at Pacifico. The hole design bends gently left to right with out of bounds left and the ocean to the right. There’s plenty of room to move the ball left to right or right to left, depending on your “normal” shot pattern, but if you double-cross it, you’re back on the tee hitting three, or dropping the ball out of the hazard and hitting three as well. Neither situation is a great option.

Now that we understand what a double-cross is (playing for a fade and hooking it or playing for a draw and slicing it), it’s now time to figure out how and why it happens!

So, let’s set up for each shot shape.

better tee shots photo 1

In Photo 1 I am set up for a left to right shot where I am on the right side of the tee box and aiming down the left side of the fairway.

For the right to left shot pattern I am setting up on the left side of the tee box and aiming down the right side of the fairway (Photo 2).

better tee shots photo 2

These two alignments will give us the best opportunity to use the entire width of the fairway so we can hit it in the short grass. Now let’s investigate what each shot shape player tends to do when they hit a double-cross.

better tee shots photos 3-4

FOR THE LEFT TO RIGHT PLAYER

The main reason you will double-cross your fade is when you fail to get off of your back foot on the way down. When you hang back as shown in Photo 3, the body stops and the arms and hands fling by closing the club face through impact (Photo 4). As we all know, when the face angle is left of the path, the ball will start left and hook with a centered hit.

To make sure you do not allow this to happen again, you must make sure you move through the ball, allowing your weight to move into your forward foot earlier. For this I have a simple drill.

Place another tee (the same height) about three to four inches in front of your current golf ball on the same target line (Photo 5). Your goal is to hit the ball and the top of the second tee with the clubhead on the way through.  This will help you to move the weight into your lead foot earlier, thus keeping the face right of the path, and you will see the ball move left to right.

better tee shots photos 5-7

FOR THE RIGHT TO LEFT PLAYER

The main reason why you will double-cross your draw is when you lose your posture through impact, standing the club shaft upwards and opening the face.  When you stand up as shown in Photo 6, the hands also raise; when this occurs the face of the club will stay right of the path (Photo 7). As we all know, when the face angle is right of the path, the ball will start right and then move further right with a centered hit.

better tee shots photo 8

Now that we understand what is happening, how do we make sure it won’t happen again? Find an alignment stick and place it in the ground as shown in Photo 8 (which is just a touch in front of the ball.)  If you stand up and raise your hands, you will be the first to know! By keeping the club shaft closer to its address angle you will find that the club has an easier time closing, which will help the face to be slightly left of the path during impact, causing the ball to gently move right to left.

Understanding the double cross is the first key to stopping it for good. The second step is to use the appropriate drill to stop you from either hanging back or standing up. Alleviating these issues will go a long way to helping you have more confidence that the ball will indeed move in the direction you want — and stop you from hitting the ball left to left or right to right, causing you headaches.

 

Source: golftipsmag.com

Course is Open with Safety Precautions

Dear friends, the golf course is open and want to make our golf experience as safe as possible.  We may now rent power riding carts!  We appreciate everyone's patience and support as we followed the Governor's order the past several weeks.  Power riding carts will be rented individually unless two players live in the same household.  Social distancing is still required.We are encouraging everyone to follow CDC guidelines in regards to the Coronavirus.  We are asking all players to reserve a time and pay either online or over the phone before coming to the course.  Please arrive no more than 15 minutes before your starting time and then go directly to the first tee at your starting time.  We have put the policies and precautions in place to give you some peace of mind while playing at Meridian Sun GC.  Click here to view.