Bobby Jones- a hero to golfers and even non-golfers will always be regarded as one of history's greatest players. His record in national Opens is unprecedented- even as an amateur player.
His achievement of winning the "Impregnable Quadrilateral" or what we refer to now as "The Grand Slam" in 1930 by winning all of golf's Major Championships in the one calendar year may never be repeated again. Amazingly Jones retired right after achieving this feat to focus on his law business.
He didn't however truly leave golf- just the playing aspect of it- as a few years after retiring from competitive play Jones brought to the world stage The Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters- now one of the four Majors that golf's elite chase every year in April in Georgia.
Bobby Jones was also a very knowledgeable exponent of the golf swing and released of series of lesson videos -using several Hollywood actors as props- .. These videos are well worth a look or at least a go over if you have seen them before- as there is some priceless information in those videos- such as the one attached here that I show on my YouTube channel.
Jones also had a penchant for the written word- and this text taken from his book Bobby Jones On Golf- again gives us amazing insight into one of the most problematic areas of the golf swing for the average golfer- The Transition and Downswing
"Now there are a number of important things to be watched in the position at the top of the swing. It is possible to write many pages on this phase of the stroke. But the one feature I have in mind is the one the duffer ignores entirely and yet it has everything to do with the success of the stroke.
At the top of the swing the shaft of the club, which for the long shots is in a position approximately in a horizontal plane- should at the same time be pointing to a spot slightly right of the object the player is aiming at. This will be found in uniform practice among the best professional golfers. It is the result of swinging the club back to the top. rather than lifting it as so many poor golfers want to do.
Now from this position it is important in what manner the club is started downward. The necessary elevation of the hands at the top of the swing draws the right elbow away from the ribs, where it should have remained until the last possible moment. the elbow is not, however, lifted into the air aimlessly; the right forearm should point obliquely, almost vertically, toward the ground and be drawn away from the side only by as much may be necessary to accommodate a full swing of the club.
Many players advance this far with fair success; but the next step usually trips them. The almost irressistable impulse now, when all is in readiness to wallop the ball, is to allow the right hand too much freedom. Immediately that unruly member, which has to be watched continually, whips the club over the right shoulder toward the front of the player, whence it must approach the ball from outside the line of flight. Whether a smothered hook or a bad slice results depends only upon whether the club face is shut or open when it reaches the ball. If anything like a decent shot results it may be ascribed as pure accident.
The proper start down from the top position I have described is in the direction in which the grip end of the shaft is pointing. Since the head end of the club is pointing slightly to the right of the objective aimed at, the grip end will be directed away from the vertical plane in which the ball rests. In other words, instead of immediately beginning to approach the line of flight as the downward stroke commences, the club head should be made at first to drop away from the line.
The importance of this movement cannot be overestimated. the right elbow then will quickly drop back into place close to the side of the body and the player is in a compact position ready to deliver a blow squarely to the back of the ball. there is NO possibility of cutting across the shot.
The cock of the wrists is then preserved during the early stages of the downstroke, while the head of the club drops behind the player so that it can approach from the inside."
This is a brilliant summary of the transition of the golf swing and how it enables us to get a more consistent strike and straighter shots. Just about everything I discuss about this phase of the swing in my own instruction and thoughts- Jones compliments right here in this passage.
As you will see from the photos attached his backswing is nowhere on plane- he takes the club back in a fashion that enables him the greatest chance to deliver the club from the proper path and angle.
Jones heavily discusses that the clubhead we allowed to fall behind the golfer and actually point over/across the ball or target line on the transition/downswing phase.
Jones also discusses the logic of creating space on the backswing via the right elbow and arm so it gives the golfer the opportunity to load back down- with the shaft on a lower plane and this helps put the right elbow back into the body for the hit that is upcoming.
For more information about how you can achieve these parts of the swing that may be a puzzle to you- sign up now for my Online Drill Series... or my Online Lesson... or better still come see me in person for a Private Lesson. All details and availability are stored under the LESSONS tabs on my website. I look forward to helping you become a better golfer.
Bradley Hughes Golf- Where Experience Counts
What is the most important aspect of striking the ball straight and with power?
This is the point in the swing where the ball is struck.
Where the clubface is pointing - combined with the path of the clubhead and the angle of descent of the clubhead and the speed of the clubhead at the moment will very much determine the outcome of the shot being played.
There are many differing thoughts about impact and especially how to achieve it. Let me show you what I know and how I believe through my own experiences it releates to 100% of the best players who ever played the game.
The golf ball can ONLY do what it is told to do - so the better we get to impact the greater the chance of a successful result.
Quality of strike is the number one goal initially for a golfer. IF we can strike the ball solidly time and time again then we open up a full playing field of improvements that will eventually work into our game- being but not limited to direction of the shot and distance of the shot and importantly hitting each club the same distance each time we swing it.
Quality of the strike is ALL about releasing the club onto the ball in a manner that produces a square face and a descending blow. Lowpoint of where the club strikes the ball and THEN strikes the ground fractionally after is paramount and the greatest goal to strive for when your game goes south.
So how do we learn to hit the ball first and hit the ground second without just throwing the hands and clubhead down at the ball and removing the body from the equation in that effort to strike?
Well its a tough one because we honestly cannot truly think of doing something in a golf swing. We all know this to be true when we film ourselves swinging the club and hitting the ball. We try to do something different in our heads but when we watch the playback of the swing itself it looks no different!!! Why??? It is because to make the swing change we really need to alter the muscles - or golf muscles as I call them- that we use. Then and only then will the swing begin to alter and that step in the right direction will be visible. Our brain wont allow our body to do what it cannot handle. However once the particular muscles have been worked to a degree- then the brain will accept and allow and we will see the changes we are so desperately trying to enforce.
Here are two quick videos I made relating to the drill work I get my students to work on. They both work on strengths and range of motion of the "golf muscles" to provide a late hit and a continuation of the body.
The first video- or drill if you may call it that- relates to impact. It may not be what you think or feel happens but this is the ultimate way to guarantee flush solid strikes time and time again.
In reality the left arm and shaft WANT to form a straight line so the later that occurs the more the strike is improved. Thats the downward strike without even having to try do it.
Its why we work on the strength and range of motion in particularly the wrists and forearms early on- so the left arm and shaft line up and hit as the right arm is providing force and speed. When we build up the muscles belonging to this occurrence then we dont even have to try do it or think about it- it happens on its own.
And not only does this guarantee a compressed strike of impact it sets us up to then be able to use the rest of the body into the follow through to increase the compression put on the ball at impact as a result of still having speed through and beyond the strike until we cant go any farther or faster.
IF we are keeping the club moving faster beyond the strike- IF we are keeping the clubface more neutral to us throught the strike by not distorting the clubface by flicking it at ball or leaning the hands at the strike then for all intent and purposes that club is going to be squarer and be moving faster AT impact. We are letting the ball get in the way of what is coming rather than trying to make impact an event. Impact is a time in place that happens... it is NOT a goal.
These two things discussed in these videos alone are what have brought about the biggest change to my students games.
Once they get the workings and strengths of the two things shown here then they ALL understand the backswing is to create space- and then that space becomes a load down... then from working the main components in the videos the HIT HAPPENS on its own. Combine that with the understanding that the hit has to continue well beyond impact - because everyone is ball bound and have too much focus on the ball itself- then their handicaps and quality of game go through the roof.
Want to learn more? Come see me in person at Holly Tree CC near Greenville SC or take advantage of my online lessons and drill series if logistics dont allow you to visit me for a lesson.
Bradley Hughes Golf- Where Experience Counts
Why is it difficult for golfers to improve?
Why is it that just when a golfer thinks they have found the secret to success everything falls apart again and they are back at square one- confused and scratching their heads trying to find the answer again?
The answer...... The golf swing is a complex chain of events.
We only have to sit back in a quiet space for a while to think about how incredibly talented we really need to be to put the clubface squarely on the ball from the proper path and angle of attack to send that ball somewhere near the direction we envision. One or two degrees wrong in either path angle and/or approach angle and the ball can veer 20 yards or more off track from our target.
We hear so many differing beliefs about the golf swing on the internet and in golf magazines and television broadcasts that we also become entrapped to differing logics about what really makes the golf swing tick. We try everything. We hear everything. We end up filling our head with so many ideas, logics and quick fixes that we don't know what to do. We did what the article or video said, yet for no result....or we gained a quick result that then disappeared as swiftly as it arrived.
The golf swing is like explaining a car crash. Ten witnesses can all give different accounts on what they saw. So how will we ever understand which account is correct. How will we ever understand what actually makes the golf swing perform better on a longer more consistent basis.
Well first we need to understand that there is NO quick fix for a mature golf game. A better game and a better swing are the result of countless hours of focusing on the right things- not an endless search for a quick result. We need time to work habits into our motion.
We also need to understand that EVERY little change we make in our swing will have a DIRECT bearing on some other aspect of our swing- this is the reason quick fixes NEVER work.... they may solve one little issue but then they wreak havoc on another area of the swing- that for all intent and purposes may have been sufficient to serve a purpose to how your swing performed. So altering one aspect to the detriment of another aspect can then cause irreparable damage. You now dont know what to work on next and the vicious cycle of chasing your tail around aimlessly begins yet again.
Have no fear!!!! My Online Drill Series takes care of all the details.
From my experiences as a PGA player and as a instructor of the game- I have done all the worrying for you. I know what is the best way to learn the golf swing. I know what changes occur from every change we make. I know the best sequence of learning that will allow you to build the most efficient swing for maximum power with maximum control. I can show you not only what a good golf swing can and will look like- but more importantly I show you what a good golf swing can feel like.
That is the essence of learning. Just like the car crash and the witnesses explaining the chain of events in all different ways- people will explain the golf swing in all different ways- because we ALL FEEL things differently. Explaining a feel is difficult because what I feel will be explained differently to how you feel the same dynamic.
This is why my Online Drill Series has had such great success with golfers the world over.
They get to work on the proper dynamics. they get to create their own feels. They get to work the body in a way that allows the club to do what it truly does in an efficient powerful golf swing. The look of the swing- what others view from the outside- then evolves into a beautiful landscape to watch because the internal strengths, ranges of motion and pressures are instilled into the golfer. The dynamics create the visual. That is the way we improve and gain confidence to then allow us to have a greater pallet to perform from on the course.
As our swing improves our decision making and club selection and mental beliefs and decisions improve along with that.... Golf becomes easier in every aspect.
That's the reason I have been able to drop thousands of strokes from golfers handicaps. A twenty handicapper to a three handicap. A 70 year old man from a sixteen handicap to a seven handicap. A personal best score of 120 to a 74 within 18 months. I allow the golfer to become their own best coach.....I arm them with the blueprint to have the swing evolve. And once you have it- it will rarely go missing in action- because it becomes YOU.
To find the golf game you have always dreamed about I offer the biggest step to your improvement via my online drill series. Or better still checkout my private lesson availability in Greenville South Carolina and see me in person to receive the hands on approach to a better game.
I look forward to helping you soon- and great golfing to you all.
Bradley Hughes Golf- Where Experience Counts
How many strokes per round does the average golfer waste due to poor decisions? If I told you a 20 handicap player could be a 15 handicap player within a month only by making better decisions would you believe me?
While we all want to improve our golf swings so we can hit longer drives and straighter irons and we all want to chip it close and one putt every green- the truth is a good golf swing and short game is only a part of being a successful golfer. The major area of improvement that is available for ALL golfers is to learn the art of manging themselves better around the golf course.
Course management. We hear that phrase all the time. Do we listen? We love to quote Sam Snead's famous line "you have to dance with the gal you brought" but how many golfers actually bring those words into context with their actions?
Over my years as a professional golfer plaing in pro am events before the tournaments I have witnessed countless poor decision making from golfers. The shot selection and the things they try to attempt almost always play a much bigger bearing on the disastrous scorecard they hand into the scorers hut at the end of play than their golf swing could ever do.
We all have a standard ability- this is based on our handicap. To go outside this standard or level of ability and attempt shots we have no right in attempting is every golfer's downfall. We compound the mistakes by venturing farther into trouble when trying to escape a predicament.
The practice range is for fine tuning our golf swing. When we hit the first tee our goal should be to play golf and not golf swing. Golf is about scoring. Golf is about minimizing mistakes and keeping big numbers off the scorecard. Big numbers come more often from a bad club selection or a poor choice of shot. Attack or defend? Pitch or chip? Chip or putt? Wood or iron? Even something as simple as how to tee up the ball correctly between the markers can save us strokes throughout the course of a round.
So here are a few guidelines that will help knock strokes off your score:
* Leave the driver in the bag. If a hole has given you trouble in the past or doesn't suit your eye choose a 3 wood or even an iron. The first goal on every hole is to get into a position that makes the next shot possible. Length is not always a determining factor in how we need to play a hole to bring us the lowest score available.
* If you tend to draw your 3 wood and tend to fade your driver play each hole accordingly. Almost every time a hole bends right to left and I need to bend it around the corner I myself still use a 3 wood. My 3 wood normally draws a little. My driver doesn't turn over as much so I play to my abilities. I select a 3 wood on holes that require a right to left tee shot. It allows me to make a confident swing without trying to do something extra with my swing.
* When a hole shapes from left to right tee your ball up over near the right tee marker. This gives you a little more space to start the ball up the left and move it around the dogleg. It is much harder visually from this tee off position to hit a push or over cut the ball as your visual aims you left. The opposite applies for a hole that curves from right to left. If you are on a par 3 hole and feel like you may have too much club in your hand for the shot, move back two club lengths. Give yourself and your mind some extra space to be able to play the shot to the best of your ability. The tee shot is important. We get to have the ball in our hand and can choose where we place it. Use it to your advantage.
* When in trouble being a hero is not always the recommended procedure. They say trees are 90% air but experience tells us otherwise. Do not compound the mistake. Get the ball back in play first and foremost. You can always hit your next shot from the fairway onto the green and make the putt for a solid recovery by playing smart.
* Play to the fat part of the green on approach shots. If the pin is on the left side of the green make it your focus to hit the ball right of the flag. If the pin is tucked on the right side of a green dont be ashamed to aim to the left. A 30 foot putt from the safe area of the green hands down beats having to play a bunker shot or chip from a swale or the rough.
* If a 40 yard pitch shot is not your strength then lay your approach back farther to a distance that is. Closer to the green doesn't necessarily mean better. If you have trouble lofting chips in the air- don't attempt it on the course. Chip around the bunker and give yourself a putt. Wasting shots by taking two or three chips on a hole is a red cross on the card. If you aren't a good chipper and can putt the ball- PUTT it. They only give out prizes for score- not for bravery or how you do it.
* Make your own decisions. Do not expect good results by using the same club as a playing partner. YOU are the one who has to hit the shot. A decisive decision is better than a guess based on outside influences.
* Know the rules. Understand what your options are in case you do have to take a penalty drop for an unplayable lie or from a water hazard. The rules can actually help us if we know where we can drop the ball and we can use them to our advantage at times to allow ourselves at least an opportunity to salvage a stroke.
Our Goal: Improve our golf swing through toil on the range. Practice the shots we aren't as well equipped to perform on the range. When our technique and confidence in these shots improves then and ONLY then should we attempt them during a round out in the field of play.
Try taking a few of these pointers out when you next play and the results you are after will be very attainable.
Tiger Woods will be making his much anticipated return to golf in a few weeks time. It is certainly an exciting moment for the entire golfing fraternity to be able to again bear witness to the man whose Major Championship record is second only to the greatest of them all- Jack Nicklaus.
As videos of Tiger's golf swing surfaced again as he was given the all clear to practice after his extended layoff due to injury, the questions again flowed. Will he be able to regain his mantle as a top tier golfer? Will he again be able to put fear in the golfers surrounding him on the leaderboard when and if his name surfaces there as the tournament weeks play out?
Watching those updated Tiger videos emerge definitely created a frenzy. Everyone who viewed them were weighing in about the swing itself- the stinger shot he portrayed in one video- his back still looked tight- there was not as much freedom to the swing- the swing looked great and was one he could again win with. Lots of people with a broad spectrum of thoughts openly expressed.
The truth is we wont really know until the tournament juices are flowing again and the "swing" has been under the gun for an extended period of time whether we will see Tiger emerge as he once was- taking all before him and providing excitement in victory or in defeat. Or if we are going to bear witness to the continual decaying of what was once the most recognizable sportsmen on the planet.
For me- the jury is still well and truly out. I don't see any significant difference in a swing that technically over the past few swing changes has continued to deteriorate not only the body of the man but also the mindset of the once invincable warrior of the sporting world.
A healthy contending Tiger Woods is a monumental plus to not only the golfing landscape but to sport in general. His ability to bring the spotlight to himself and to the PGA Tour just through his sheer prescence is sorely needed for golf. The golf world has missed him just as much as I am sure he has missed the golf world.
The incredibly difficult thing after such a long layoff is- tournament golf and practice fairway golf/casual golf are two entirely different kettles of fish. In tournament golf you have to play your foul balls. You dont have the ability to scrape over another ball from the pile and re-execute and pretend the last shot didn't happen.
There was a definite fraility to Tiger's game during his last comeback. This was more accountable to lack of tournament golf- in front of all the friends and fans who were willing him to perform to his stellar level- rather than an injury hangover.
I have been fortunate throughout my golf career to not have to deal with injuries so I can't call judgement on how that affects the ability to perform again after time away from the game. I can however relate to lack of play and being deprived of match practice at the highest level easily erodes a top performers capabilities when they are once again thrust out into the open market for all observers to critique and pick apart their actions and scorecard.
So initially we have to adjudicate Tiger's performance to ability rather than injury- especially since he has from all accounts brought forward the fact he is as healthy as can be despite the recent operations. His upcoming events will allow us to deduct whether that performance-good or bad- is technical or mental.
Mental incompetence is hard to pinpoint. We really don't know what revolves around a competitors head in the process of selecting and executing a shot. We would really have to determine the result as a mental letdown by the golfer's own admission and that is something Tiger Woods doesn't admit freely to- so our real basis will therefore be by technical breakdown if things don't quite go according to plan.
So what technical advances has Tiger made since he last flashed across our radar in tournament play?
Well not a lot really. His swing of the past several years has certainly been a great concern. One of the greatest thinkers and concentrators on the task at hand has hit far too many poor sub standard shots over the past decade to believe there is not a technical issue playing a substantial role in these array of licorice all sorts shot dispersions and mis-strikes
Over time as you alter so many things, the blueprint tolied on for so many years, is shifted away from what your natural feels and instincts are and the whole body/mind process of a free flowing reactive swing dissipates.
Any alteration relating to your setup or your backswing or transition or throughswing- all of it- has a bearing on some other region of the swing. So whilst you may feel the need to focus on one area you can usually restrict and inhibit another area of the swing which was perfectly functional at the same time.
And then the vicous circle of trying to do something your body and instincts won't allow to work in harmony creeps in and in no time at all- all you have is what we call a crayfish...a body full of bones and a head full of sh1t.!!!
Going from cupped and across the line to bowed and laid off- working more behind the ball with a lot of width on the backswing to later on trying to stay more centered or even left on the backswing (a proposterous logic really, given his left knee issues before this alteration)- using a wider stance to build a solid base where the upper body could stand free and tall to succumbing to a narrow stance with more flex in the knees and a more bent over torso- are just some of the mechanics that Tiger worked on - errorneously in an attempt to refine or rehash his swing over the years.
So with trepidation I see a swing that lacks what it needs. It still has the finger prints on it that assisted in the assortment of shots that a 14 time Major Champion shouldn't hit but once in a million years and the same mismatch of motion and dynamics that attributed to the breakdown of the body previously.
I hope my naysayer point of view here in this article is entirely untrue and that Tiger comes out and shocks us all and somehow manages to edge even closer to Nicklaus' record 18 Major haul- I will be applauding along with everyone else if that does come to fruition.
However I really expected a newer version of Tiger to re-emerge on this occassion. Tiger 6.0!!!
He had oodles of time to work out what went wrong- what the best plan of attack would be to help solve the recurring issues of the past comebacks and to turn the recent time off into a windfall for the future.
As we close in on that first tee shot in over a year, I don't see any noticeable differences that could contribute to better play and a more healthier swing for the long haul- I hope I am somehow proven wrong.