Swing Like A Pirate….Use Your ARRRRRMS!

The contribution of the body to the golf swing has been over emphasized for years. I guess one reason for this fact is that body positions were easy to point out in a golf magazine. Problem is, the over use of the body or excess body motion continues to be the killer of the golf swing for many a golfer, holding them back from their true potential.

The biggest killer by far is the starting of your downswing with your shoulders. The body has such a small territory to cover in the downswing while the arms have so far to travel that you MUST start your downswing with your arms or you will travel over the top on your downswing causing you to pull the ball and more importantly release the power angle created at the top of your backswing too early.

Another by product of starting your shoulders first on the downswing is swinging on too steep a plane during your approach to the golf ball. You can get away with swinging a little steep with a wedge up to a seven iron. Once you get in to the longer clubs you need to get the arms going first so the club shallows out on the approach.

The lie angle on a wedge (the lie angle is a measurement from the center of the shaft to the ground in degrees) would be about 64 degrees. On a driver the lie angle is 55 degrees. All clubs are swung on plane, being the shaft angle at address and every golf club has it’s own plane. The longer the golf club the flatter or more shallow the plane. To get the longer clubs to shallow out you need to start your arms earlier on the down swing.

You may feel a little flat or rounded on your swing with a driver but that’s a good thing. A perfect example of what I’m saying here is Sergio Garcia. He starts the arms down early about as well as anyone has since Ben Hogan did. Ben Hogan described his downswing as like pulling an arrow out of a quiver. Tiger Woods says his down swing feels like his arms are falling out of the sky in front of his chest. Al Geiberger said the downswing was like ringing a bell. They are all saying the same thing, get your arms going first in the downswing.

Take a look at Jim Furyk. You may think he has a funny swing but watch how he drops his arms first on the down swing. Many a golfer like Jim Furyk, (Tony Lema, Lee Trevino, Freddy Couples) swing steep on the back swing so they can fall to a shallow position on the downswing. It is a lot easier to fall down to the plane rather than rise up to it. Taking the golf club back low and behind you might cause you to swing steep on the down swing because you need to turn your shoulders first to get the golf club out in front of you to get to the golf ball.

Pretend like you’re facing 12 o’clock while at the address position. Then take your club to the top of the backswing. Pick your head up an look at the 2 o’clock position. Hold that position in your chest and head and start pumping the golf club down with your arms holding the body perfectly still. That’s the feeling you need to get the arms going first.

Another great drill is to put a stick in the ground about three feet high and one foot outside your back foot and even with the golf ball. Try to put the stick in the ground at the same angle as the shaft on your golf club. Take the golf club back outside the stick and bring it down to the ball inside the stick.

Whatever drill you use get your arms going first! Swing like a pirate…use your arrrrrms!


“Taking Your Swing From the Driving Range to the Course”

“Taking Your Swing From the Driving Range to the Course”

Transferring your perfect consistent driving range warm up swing to the golf course is a typical dilemma and a frustration of many a golfer. You’re killing it on the range, everything seems perfect. You’re convinced that you will have your best round ever and then right on the first tee you yank it out of bounds! Some golfers can play well for the first three or four holes, only to loose their rhythm on the fifth hole and throw away a great start. Others play like a dog the first four holes, finally relax and start to play better. Does this sound like you? If so there’s help.

Before anything, you do need to see your swing by way of slow motion video analysis with a recognized PGA golf professional to see if there is a major swing fault in your swing that might be making it difficult for you to control your swing on the golf course. I offer lessons with video analysis right over the internet. All you need is a camera and your home computer. For details go to www.bobbylopezgolf.com. With that said, there is a technique or sequence of events that help a golfer control their swing tempo and emotions on the golf course. Of course nothing in golf is “always”, but if you’re doing the right things you’ll have your share of success.

First off I like to begin my day with the short game warm up first. Most golf courses are not designed for my kind of warm up. They have the putting green near the first tee and the driving range across the way.

After doing my short game work, (see my special report on golf game warm up) I head for the driving range with about 20 minutes to spend.

I try to end my last swing with my Driver with just enough time to get the first tee comfortably, (make sure it’s a good driver shot or hit another one until you do). I want my last swing to be, the first thing
I can relate to when I tee it up.

You need to understand that when you hit a good shot, all the mechanics of your swing must have all come together at just the right time or sequence at impact, at the specific rhythm or swing speed you had on the range. Once most golfers get to the golf course, they begin to increase the RPM on their swing so that the synchronization of your swing falls apart. Resulting in a club face that is out of alignment with the path, or maybe your body out of position from swinging faster and harder or even slower.

At the first tee, picture in your mind that exact swing speed or rhythm you had on the last great tee shot you hit at the range only moments ago. If anything attempt to swing the golf club a notch or two slower than on the range. Don’t over do it, I said a notch or two. Swinging way too slow will have the same poor result as swinging too fast. Remember, having the arms and body out of sync is the problem. Your swing operates at a specific speed where all the parts seem to fall into place. Find that swing speed or rhythm and you got it made.

As the game progresses you may be in further risk of swinging harder or slower. Having a couple of bad holes can affect your swing speed tremendously. Depending on your personality some golfers get angry and swing harder. That only leads to further damage and a totally lost day.

One common flaw is mixing target golf with swing mechanics. Concentrate on swing mechanics on the driving range not on the golf course. I’m referring to driving range work for your swing, not the driving range warm before you play. Driving range warm up before play is for flexibility, tempo and rhythm not swing mechanics.

When working on swing mechanics on the driving range do not concern yourself with accuracy. You may experience erratic ball flight when making a swing improvement for 20 to 30 days or more. Once you head to the golf course let the practice on rebuilding your swing melt in to your golf game without having to think about it on the golf course.

Develop a pre-shot routine. Maintaining a consistent pre-shot routine on your range warm up and carrying it over to the golf course is key to your controlling your tempo and rhythm on the golf course.

I use breathing exercises to try and keep myself level minded and level thinking throughout the round. Stay away from coffee, anything with sugar like orange juice, sodas, even diet sodas because of the caffeine. What you eat or drink can greatly effect your swing tempo, rhythm and all around attitude.

Be patient on the golf course. What difference does it make if you bogey the first hole or the last, it’s still a bogey. Forget it. Keep playing, stay within your rhythm and hope for the best. Don’t force your game, like a young quarterback trying to force a ball in coverage and getting intercepted.

Getting emotional over a bad hole will only make things worse. Ben Hogan was probably the greatest at controlling his emotions on the golf course. Controlling your emotions doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Stay relaxed, concentrate on your swing rhythm not your mechanics, (that’s for the driving range) and enjoy the day. After all that’s why you play golf!

You may want to consider taking advantage of our One Day To A Better Golf Game Program. We do it all in one day! Short game, video instruction on the range, lunch with the pro, on course instruction with a PGA pro covering everything from club selection to alignment to controlling your swing on the golf course.

Any questions? You can reach me at 804-378-7456 or send me an E-mail to bobbylopez@bobbylopezgolf.com.

Chipping is a Crucial Third Down Play

Chipping is a Crucial Third Down Play

Yes I’m a football fan. I can’t help it. Even though I must say I’m disgusted with the salary caps, free agency, the all around musical chairs played in trades that really make the game look a lot more like a rich boy’s hobby among the owners. I also disagree with the rules changes that tie the hands of the defense in order to score more touchdowns. Then when they score more touchdowns the NFL complains about the demonstrating after the score.

Applying football to golf…your tee shot is the first down play. If you’re second and twenty all day you’re not going to win many football games. You need to find a way to control your tee shots and get them on the fairway with a decent angle to approach the green. Your iron approach to the green is important but second down won’t kill you if it’s not the best play in your game and even if you hit it close you’re not done yet. It doesn’t matter if you miss a six foot putt for birdie or get it up and down from a bunker it’s still a par…which in my book is a first down! You can hang on to the ball and keep working it around the golf course.

Your chip shot is a third down play that you need to convert on. You need to convert on third down to win football games and it’s the same in golf. Even the best only hit about 60% of their greens in regulation, so touring pros are getting it up and down more than you might think. Chip a ball in off the green and I consider that a TOUCHDOWN! You were heading for bogey and made a birdie!

I like to classify a third down play in yardage. For instance…if you’re right on the front edge of the green with a straight uphill chip with plenty of room to roll the ball so you can use a low lofted club, I would consider that third and three. You should convert most of the time from third and two or three. If you’re ball is behind a bunker forcing you to elevate the golf ball and stop it on a dime, I would call that a third and twenty! Not much chance of converting here.

I like to see most average golfers practice more on the third in 5 or less. First they have a far higher opportunity of converting to first downs and they happen more often. To be successful on third and short plays you need to dominate three different facets of chipping:

The Stroke

To get a feel for the stroke try taking your three wood and gripping it very low on the shaft and holding the butt of the golf club up against your front forearm. This position will NOT allow you to flip your hands. Flipping is death to the chipping stroke. You need a pendulum motion with NO motion in the hands. Try to stroke like a pendulum from your front shoulder.

The Alignment

I suggest using a hitting station to chip from. Use the diagram below to see the chipping station I use. I see very sloppy alignment when teaching chipping. It seems like golfers understand the importance of aligning a putt and neglect the importance when chipping. Make sure the leading edge of your golf club is pointed directly at your target, (which may not be the hole if there is some break to consider). Many golfers leave the club face open. You’ll find that if you do leave your club face open you are probably doing the same on your full iron shots. You’ve become so use to the look that it doesn’t look open to you, but it is.

The Choice in Loft and Landing Area

You want to use the least amount of loft possible when chipping. Loft equals speed so if you want the ball to roll faster use less loft. The further you are away from your landing area to more loft you need to slow the ball down. Loft or arc will cause the ball to roll slower.

The only way to improve with your choice of loft and roll is to practice. Find a practice chipping green and work your way all around the green. Chip with a six iron from about three yards off the green. Hit the ball so it goes only to about a foot or so on the green and watch it roll. Then you can begin adjusting from there. From the same position try an eight iron and hit it with same amount of force to reach the same lading area. Observe carefully the roll of the ball and you should find that it rolls less distance and slower than the six iron shot did.

You should find that you have to move back about three more yards from the landing area to get the ball to roll the exact same distance with an eight iron from six yards way from the landing area as a six iron did form three yards from the landing area.

Make your adjustments accordingly and you’ll begin to recognize the amount of roll and loft you need to accomplish any third down and short play. Don’t get discouraged when you miss a green in regulation, get excited about making a recovery. When you chip one up close on the golf course don’t feel silly if you scream FIRST DOWN and wave you arms like a referee. I do!

Bobby Lopez, PGA