The Great Anchor Putting Stroke Debate!

Anchor Putt 2

This article is more a question, or unofficial survey, on what you feel about the PGA decision to ban the anchor putter.  The following is a quote:

“In adopting Rule 14-1b, the USGA and The R&A have concluded that freely swinging the entire club is integral to maintaining the traditions of the game and preserving golf as an enjoyable game of skill and challenge.

The essence of the traditional method of golf stroke involves the player swinging the club with both the club and the gripping hands being held away from the body.

“The concept of intentionally immobilizing one end of the golf club against the body … is a substantial departure from that traditional understanding of the golf swing.”

The PGA is going to follow the ruling set beginning January 1st, 2016.

Myself, I think it should be pro-choice, but I ask a couple of questions first.

One, if 4 of the last 7 major winners hadn’t been using the anchor putter style would it have been such an issue?  And if it is such a great advantage wouldn’t everyone just switch to this style?  To me changes in equipment, like going from the truly wooden heads, to the metal titanium drivers with composite shafts changed the game a whole lot more.  (Even to the point of making all golf courses increase their length…)

And why may you ask is there going to be a much longer timeline for armatures to be required to adapt to this rule?  (Because of the money…too many manufactures of golf equipment sell tons of these putters.)

If the Happy Gilmore swing really worked, and pros could drive it 400 yards, would we outlaw the feet leaving the ground?

They outlawed Sam Snead’s croquet style putting between his legs saying that wasn’t a true putting stroke. (It wasn’t anchored though…)

It seems to me if someone finds a better way to use the same equipment that is innovation, not breaking the rules.

Anyway, give me your comment on what you think on the FB page; it will be interesting to get some other opinions.

Craig Frank

RGL

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Real Game Practicing

bad lieOne of the interesting aspects of practicing golf is almost 100% of the time students practice under the most ideal of situations.  Rarely do we practice in the rain.  And almost never when it gets too hot.  The ground conditions are usually pristine and when not we are then striking the ball off of a nice green flat matt.  I don’t remember ever playing under these conditions for an entire round of golf.  This is where you need to let your imagination work for you.

If you are at your local range pretend that 175 yard marker is the far edge of a lake and keep track of how many drives come up short.  (You can adjust this yardage marker to your ability…)

If you have trees on your range practice seeing what club you need to clear them at a certain distance.

When I was working on my game many years ago I used to go real early to a range next to where I lived to get some time in before any other golfers arrived.  This allowed me to use a sand bunker near the range as a fairway bunker by turning 90 degrees around.  It had a small lip from this direction and I could launch balls to the range over the hitting stalls.  Of course this wouldn’t be possible if anyone else was there but it gave me an opportunity to try different clubs hitting fairway bunker shots you wouldn’t normally be able to practice.

Another time I would get there early and practice out of the grass at the far right edge of the range.  They couldn’t mow the grass close to the fence leaving around a 3 foot strip of 6 inch long blades.  Now I could adjust my swing and club selection for those few (more than few?) times I missed the fairway.

When you practice your short game don’t always play from that perfect lie.  Drop the ball in a divot.  Play off hard pan.  Put a clump of sod in front of your ball.  Play under the conditions you might experience on the course.  Use your imagination to create these scenarios and the “real” game will be much easier in the long run.

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Are You Ready For New Irons?

old irons

Today we are going to discuss some of the changes in irons over the years for the second part of “Are you in the market for new clubs”.

One of the biggest changes is the cavity backed irons.  These have made the game a lot easier.  The sweet spot is more the size of a quarter now rather than the old blade style heads with a sweet spot the size of a dime.  Also with many of today’s clubs having a lower center of gravity getting them airborne easier is another advantage.  And with the choices in shafts today many other refinements come into play such as launch angle, flight, spin ability, etc.

But most students are looking for the same thing to begin with as the driver – and that is more distance.  This is where picking out clubs can get confusing. First of all the loft of the club is one of the main factors in distance.  Obviously if you are hitting a 5 iron you would hit it farther than a 7 iron…  Not necessarily now days.  You see there is no standardization in the industry to just what a loft should be with each corresponding club number.  Years ago the average loft of a 7 iron was around 36 degrees.  Now it is whatever the club manufacturers want it to be.  In a comparison the Titleist AP 2 has a 7 iron loft of 35 degrees.  The TaylorMade Rockedbladez 7 iron has a loft of 30.5.  This isn’t exactly comparing apples to apples.  With clubs averaging a difference of 4 degrees between each club this is a 1 ½ club difference.  No wonder they advertise as being the longest hitting club out there.

Now it may be a great feeling when all your playing partners are bringing out 5 irons to a par three and you dial it in with a 7 iron, and great to brag back at the clubhouse, but the disadvantages can be several.  For one when we get down to the 3 and 4 irons it is like hitting the old 1 and 2 irons in these “stronger lofted” sets.  These are best left to the really low handicap player.  Also with the lower clubs they may actually match the lofts of your 5 woods and many hybrids making it a waste to carry 3 clubs that all hit the ball the same distance.  The other disadvantage is with the lower loft pitching wedges that come with the set.  You can have a huge difference between the average 56 degree sand wedge and (click on the graph below) a 42 degree pitching.  That is 14 degrees difference.  You want to keep your wedges around 4 degrees apart…and 3 gap wedges is a waste.

Golf-Club-Lofts

So when you go try out new clubs make sure you are comparing lofts, not club numbers.  A little research on-line will give you the information you need.  The chart above is a good place to start.

Later we will talk some about shafts and how they affect the ball flight as well.

 

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Are You Ready For New Equipment?

Driver 1

I get lots of questions from my students regarding purchasing new golf equipment.  Should I buy new irons now or wait until after lessons?  Will that new driver really get me some extra yards?  Answers to these types of questions usually promote me to ask you a few of my own.

How old is the equipment you are playing and was it fit for you?  If the answer is the clubs are 10 years old and no they weren’t fit for me then you are ready for a change.  At this point you can buy a better game!

Raymond Floyd in 1980 averaged 258.0 yards per drive.  In 1998, 18 years later, on the Champions Tour averaged 278.3 yards per drive.  Now I don’t really believe it was because Raymond, at 55 years old, was out pumping iron every day and getting that much longer.  No equipment has made a big difference in distance.

In 1992 John Daly lead the tour with a 272.1 average.

There were only 2 measured drives over 300 yards that same year (308 the longest – again by Daly)

There were 13 players this year (2013) that averaged over 300 yards per drive.

For this last season (2013) the leader in distance was Luke List at 306.3.  Unfortunately with a tie for 16th as his top finish and “only” $264,401 in earnings he will need to play his way back onto the tour for 2014.  Dustin Johnson (2nd) did much better with his average of 305.8 yards per drive turning that into $2,963,214 for the year.

There has been around a 30 yard increase in distance average over the past 20+ years.  Better check the real date on that club you are using…with all the technology going into drivers if yours is over 5 years old I suggest looking into a new one.

Thursday will be part two in this article on new equipment when we discuss a new set of irons…

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The Grey Matter and the Golf Swing Part II

brain

In article on Tuesday we discussed the difference between playing golf and some of the other sports.  And how most games are reactionary, and don’t let your brain get in the way of your play.  One other sport that is closer to golf is bowling.  You have your setup, swing, release, and don’t react to any other players. (But with the amount of beer involved with this activity the brain rarely is the problem…)

Many sports physiologists recommend clearing the brain.  Great advice, but how do you do that?  When you have water on the right, out of bounds on the left, you need to clear 100 yards of waste land just to get to the fairway…many negative thoughts can creep in.  And concentrating (worrying?) on all the mechanical ideas of keeping arms strait, head down, full turn, etc. just makes it worse.

No, if you think:

“Don’t slice”

“Don’t Slice”

“DON’T SLICE!”

Where do you think that ball is going?  (Slice-A-Rooni!)

A way around this is so simple.  We just need to replace these thoughts with a good one.  Mine is this.  I simply say (and speak this out load in the beginning) the word BACK when I first start the swing.  Say the word AND at the top of the swing.  And say the word FORTH at impact.  It really is that simple with a little practice.

After working this drill for a while you can use this as your go-to swing thought.  Just thinking the words Back-And-Forth now replace those negative thoughts.  It is simple and effective…but again, you must practice it!

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  And if you still have troubles with the old noggin, pretend you are bowling and have a beer.

Disclaimer:  Beer may not help; but you  won’t care as much…

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The Grey Matter and the Golf Swing

brain 2

Bobby Jones once said that competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course… the space between your ears.  And that some people think they are concentrating when they’re merely worrying.  I see a lot of this with students that I am teaching.  We spend a lot of time working on the mechanics of the golf swing and probably not enough on the cerebral part of the game.

Many people that have played other sports find golf one of the most difficult.  I see this with baseball, tennis, basketball, football, table tennis, lacrosse, hockey, etc.  Star players that can’t seem to succeed with the golf game.  I mean, how hard is it?  The ball isn’t moving, you don’t have a clock, nobody is trying to stop you, and there isn’t even any noise!  But somehow it ends up one of the most frustrating skill anyone can ever try to become accomplished at.

My reasoning is this.  All the other sports we just mentioned (and there are plenty of other examples) are all what we term “reactionary sports”.  You practice a skill, like taking ground balls in baseball, until you have the fundamentals down and then in real-time you don’t think, you just do.  “Keep my head down; left arm straight; full shoulder turn; shift your weight;” I hear this all the time when I ask someone what they are thinking during their golf swing.  How good would a baseball player be fielding the ball if they thought each time “step to my left; shuffle my feet; bend from the hips; lower the glove; scoop; transfer to my throwing hand; step and throw to first base;” (by now the runner is rounding third and heading for home…).   No, the infielder just reacts.

This is what we need to be able to do in golf.  And a great thing is this takes no great athletic ability to improve.  Thursday we will talk about how to accomplish this!

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SKLZ Power Wedge

Power Wedge 2After watching thousands of golf swings one of the most important aspects is the transfer of weight from the back foot to the front foot on the downswing.  The golf swing is very similar to the throwing of a ball.  You need to use your legs as much as your arm.  Strength doesn’t have as much to do with hitting a golf ball a long ways as does timing and use of the lower body.  Think of the ladies on the LPGA Tour.  It isn’t that they are bigger and stronger than the average amateur player but boy can they hit the ball farther than most of them!  This is from the proper use of the lower body…something I see lacking in a really high percentage of students when they first come to see me.

One of the best, inexpensive, teaching aids I use is called the SKLZ Power Wedge.  It helps train not to sway on the back-swing and how to correctly transfer your weight on the downswing.  By using this under your back foot you will hear an audible click at impact when you do it properly.  That is it.  You are now transferring your weight.  The difference you will feel at impact will be amazing.  Now I’m not saying this is a cure all.  You still need to practice and practice this to allow the correction of other problems.  But it sure is a good start.  Without good footwork, and weight transfer, you really are playing with a handicap…

Google the SKLZ Power Wedge (Amazon sells it for $10.95) and check out the training video.  This may just be something that could really help your game.

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Who Plays Golf?

Dennis PicThe other day I was talking to someone that didn’t play golf.  When I asked why they said it was just a game for “old white guys”.  This got me to thinking (always a dangerous proposition) about just what type of people I have given lessons to over the years.

I have given lessons to students male and female, young and old and anything in between (in between young and old; not male and female…).  This includes people from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, India, Africa, England, Scotland, France and Germany.  Also the list includes Native American, African American, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Spanish and Mexican.  Children as young as 5 and children as old as 91.  Skill levels from the scratch handicapper to the…well technically it only goes to 36.

Occupation’s from the CEO of Sony to having a paper route.  From the Head Doctor that oversees all of Sharp Reese Steely to some lawyers that think they oversee everything else.  To detectives undercover (can’t tell you anymore of that or they would have to kill me…) to the instructors of the S.W.A.T. team.  (Oh yeah, some of my students don’t work.  You know who you are and should be practicing more) Pilots, both commercial and Navy, Atomic engineers, business owners, and Wild Animal Park workers.  And yes, there are a few “old white guys” that I have worked with.

There is one person I absolutely will not teach though.  One that I would pay for to take golf lessons from another pro.  One I wouldn’t even give a piece of advice to.  Not with playing the game, what equipment to purchase, and especially what to wear at the golf course.

This would be my wife…

If I can pass on one bit of advice to all the husbands out there – follow this one rule and you will enjoy playing golf with your significant other much more.

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Weight Shift & the Golf Swing

Pitcher 2Many times when beginning a series of golf lessons I like to talk to the student about what other sports they play, or have played in the past.  I can use this to explain the similarities with what they have learned in the past and what we are trying to accomplish now.  Most of the time it has to do with the basics of balance and weight shift.

Tennis is good in the sense of balance and stepping into the shot.  True our feet don’t leave the ground in golf but the weight does shift to the front foot at impact analogous to tennis.  A boxer stepping into a punch has more power when he uses his legs.  A kicker in football usually makes a good golfer as does a quarterback accustomed to stepping into his throw.

Probably the best comparison between the sports of golf and another is to a baseball pitcher.  A pitcher doesn’t pitch with the arm, but the legs.  True we use the arm but that isn’t where the real power comes from.  (Try throwing a ball without using your legs and it doesn’t have much oomph…)  Think of some of the more powerful pitchers.  Ryan, Clemens, all had legs like tree trunks.  I think back to the Atlanta Braves staff when Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux played and how all three of them were very good golfers with low handicaps.  (Of course when you only work once every 5 days it gives you a lot of time to work on the golf game…)

With this said I believe working on the golf swing from the ground up – literally – is the way to go.  So if you don’t hit the ball as far as you would like this would be an excellent place for us to start.

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Maintaining Good Spine Angle with your Golf Swing

One thing that can really destroy a golf swing is an inconsistent spine angle
throughout the swing. Most of the time I see this problem with students it results
in a “standing up” or straitening of the spine at impact. And we all know that
“what goes up…” well you get the point.

So let’s talk some on this. If looking at yourself from a side angle using a mirror
observe the angle of your spine at your golf address position. It should roughly
be in the area of a 34 – 40 degree angle bent forward. If you imagine a line drawn
along your spine it should be the same from setup, to the top of the swing, to
impact and past impact. (A straightening at finish some is causes less strain on the
lower back)

To accomplish this set up a chair tall enough for the back to rest against your
rear. Bend over to your address position and keep your backside pushed against
the chair. As you rotate to the top of the swing your right hip should stay touching;
and then on the downswing it is replaced with your left hip touching. This will
keep a consistent spine angle for your golf swing. Take a chair to the range and
work on this till it becomes natural.

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