It’s fair to say that with the advent of some terrific technology we know more about the game of golf than we ever have before, we understand how to make the game easier but we also now know just how difficult it really is to advance a small round ball from A to B. If you ever want to look at the game in the same way you might want to stop reading here, alternatively if you want to realise that perfection is unattainable and we merely do the best we can then read on!
The hardest club to hit straight in the bag is driver, it’s the longest club, it has the least loft and we attempt to hit it as far as possible the majority of the time. The margin for error is incredibly small, a dimple off centre with your contact? Good luck hitting a fairway at 250 if you aim down the middle. A face a couple of degrees open or closed to the path? You’re going to miss it at 250. A combination of both errors? It could work for you or massively against you.
It’s not easy.
Wedges are easy though right? They have the most loft and the shortest shaft, it’s kind of hard to curve a wedge shot so it must be easier. Except it isn’t. It’s just different. You see with a driver we’re really working in the horizontal or X-axis. We measure face to path relationship horizontally, we really only concern ourselves with non centered strikes horizontally because at the end of the day we’re not really worried about exactly how far it carries but where it comes to rest laterally.
Wedges however are the complete opposite. That extra loft and shorter shaft mean it’s easier to have a pretty good dispersion laterally but we need to be more concerned with the vertical or Y-axis as it's really a game of distance control. How the Attack Angle and Dynamic Loft are delivered to the ball, how the centeredness of contact is vertically. These are the crucial factors to hit the ball the correct distance besides speed of delivery. If you get these wrong you can forget about putting for birdie and hope you don’t 3 putt if it really goes wrong.
It can’t be that hard though right? I mean how much error could it possibly make? A few degrees here, a bit steeper there or a little higher on the face…
Well let me show you.
These pictures are part of my current presentation on the wedge game and they illustrate proximity errors. All but one have been given something like perfect speed for the distance we were shooting for, the only other errors are loft, or more accurately ‘spin loft’. A little off with attack angle, slightly off with dynamic loft, a little off with face to path. Any or all could easily conspire to make a 4º spin loft error, it’s not hard.
As you can see the chances of making the next putt get low really fast for a PGA Tour quality putter, nevermind a weekend warrior. It fast reaches the point where if you combine a speed error and loft error you’re missing greens by significant distances.
The problem is that speed generally takes the blame. It’s true that speed error is often a contributing factor but I wouldn’t place it at the top. It’s a close run thing between speed and smash factor. Why did I only use the term smash factor now? Well your delivered spin loft is pretty much the same thing, minus impact location.
Turns out hitting great wedge shots is hard. You’re never going to be perfect but with a little understanding you can increase the predictability substantially. Remember, long shots are a game of horizontal errors, short shots are all about the vertical.
If you want to hear a little more why not visit my video vault on my website, you’ll find the PGA Summit presentation there which will not only explain the problems but also what you can do about them.
During a day working with a few professionals in Denmark last week I was fortunate enough to capture a perfect example of how to improve spin rate around the greens. It required a club selection change, a technical change and a bucketload of faith in what I was suggesting as it defied convention and superficial logic.
I use the term superficial logic because it seems prevalent in the game of golf and is often to our detriment. When thought goes a little deeper into our actions and choices you can often supersede that flawed logic with better solutions, yes it requires more thinking and perhaps a better depth of knowledge but once you break the cycle of weak thinking improvement is almost unavoidable. As players and coaches we need to remove our blinkers once in a while and really think things through, putting the wisdom we have garnered over years of experience to one side and taking a fresh look.
I am extremely cynical about everything, it spills over into my everyday life (which sometimes isn't helpful) so I'm always asking 'why' and 'what if', if the answers aren't satisfactory then I keep digging, and so should you (yes I just used an Oxford comma). So take a look at the case study video, it might help and it might not, one size can't fit all remember.
At least that’s what we’ve been led to believe over the last couple of months from a number of sources, these quotes below are simply from the first page of a google search for “Tiger Yips”. You’d be forgiven for believing it, after all we’ve seen shots most unlike one the greatest scramblers the game has ever seen, thins, fats and all sorts in between.
Bill Harmon, brother of Tiger’s former coach Butch, told me this: “[Tiger] does have the chipping yips. I also think he has the yips with the driver. Fear will make anyone ordinary. When a golfer is unsure of and fears impact around the greens it’s a totally different game.”
“Let's be serious. Tiger Woods has the yips.
It doesn't have anything to do with Tiger's new swing consultant, Chris Como, and what they're working on in his full swing. It isn't because the fixes in his long game are leaking into his chipping. It isn't a mechanical flaw. It isn't pressure.
It's the yips.” Hank Haney
“Tiger Woods has the yips. Woods has done a lot of astounding things in his career, but the past two days at the Phoenix Open were as startling as anything we've ever seen from the 14-time major winner. Tiger simply couldn't hit a chip shot or pitch shot onto the green. It's one of the more basic aspects of the game and an area every PGA Tour-caliber player has mastered. It was sad, uncomfortable, and amazing to watch from perhaps the greatest player of all time.”
“Hi, my name is Robert Damron, and I have the yips.
Phew, there ... I said it. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to getting better.
And believe it or not, I know a few guys with the same atrocious condition. You've probably heard of one of them. His name is Tiger Woods. He shows all the symptoms of my affliction even though he hasn't been formally diagnosed.”
Being fairly stringent and anal on definitions labelling Tiger with the yips is fundamentally flawed from the outset in my opinion, for me the yips are a neurological condition, focal dystonia. Psychological issues on these more delicate shots probably shouldn’t be labelled as the yips as the majority of the time they are not. But that is merely my opinion of the yips and I digress.
The psychological issues we see fairly commonly are almost certainly rooted in a technical malfunction, at some point the player has attempted to play some shots with a chronically mismatched set of components in their action and attempted to compensate in one way or another. This has then led to the psychological barriers that make the shots in question unbearable. This then requires a greater fix than technical alone as it’s become part of the mind game, therefore it’s not technical... or is it? Of course it is, just because it has become deep rooted in the mind doesn’t mean it’s no longer technical, it’s both.
So what should you do? Identify or have someone with the skills identify what is off, believe me it’s obvious when you know what you’re looking for. Once identified the mind needs to be distracted or the focus taken away from the mental mountain they have created. This dual approach almost always gets it done.
Back to Tiger for a moment though, you don’t hit shots like Tiger did on the 11th on Thursday if you have the yips by anyone’s definition. To create that much speed, that kind of contact and associated spin just wouldn’t happen. It needed a late release point and for the arc to be short on the followthrough, the bottom of the arc would have had a very sharp radius, about as non-flatspot as you could get, it needed to be precise. It was a thing of beauty. A yipper would have kept the shaft leaning forward, sharpened the leading edge and reduced the spin loft to a point where the ball would have just shot through. Poor short game technique pushes players towards the vicious cycle of comfort and flawed logic when attempting to prevent poor shots, it never gets fixed that way, what seems counter intuitive to most is usually what is really needed.
Here it is for your viewing pleasure, like I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago while sharing a superb video of his practice session you can hit all the creative shots from the right kind of delivery and also get quite a generous margin for error.
It's amazing to me what has happened in the last year. So many interesting events and opportunities for us beginning with the main one being the release of our Short Game Secrets 5 video set. James and I have known each other for a very long time. In fact he was one of the very first people I ever interacted with when I started to investigate this brave new word of internet golf forums.
We've talked back and forth about many subjects. We will use each other as a sounding board as we look at things very similarly and our thirst for knowledge is quite strong. One day, James decided it was time to do something instead of just learn about something. From that single conversation came Short Game Secrets. The success of the video series inspired us to add more videos and continue our research in this specific direction.
Early in 2014, we offered our first Short Game Secrets school. This lead to another and another as our product lines grew and the feedback from the series fueled us. Over the summer, we met for a few days in England where we started some 3d collection of different wedge shots and putting strokes. It was a great opportunity for us to test some ideas and search for information to make our products better.
From this research, James was able to really advance his own personal understanding of the wedge game and why the different variations we see work. This advancement was discussed during a 3 day seminar in Denmark by James which was received very well. I began working with some players on the US PGA Tour utilizing some of the exact same information provided in our video set along with some newly added stuff.
Next up for us was a three day trip to Seoul, Korea. Short Game Secrets provided 2 days of teacher training on how to analyze and coach the short game. A third day was used to teach actual players in a group setting so the teachers could see how to apply what we had talked about. It was an amazing trip and we met so many new friends. Look forward to going back some time in the future. Keep your eye on Goya Advanced Golf as they strive to bring great instruction to Korea.
Shortly after that event, a very well know American instructor (Mike Adams) did a seminar in Denmark and was informed about the great 3 day seminar James had provided. After hearing about the quality of the seminar, Mike put the wheels in motion leading to James being asked to speak at the US National Coaching and Teaching summit.
2015 looks to be a very promising year with more schools and workshops already planned. If you are interested in hosting us for your PGA Section talk please let us know. It's easiest to reach us by email email@example.com
Finally, thank you to everyone for their support in our endeavor and we look forward to providing the best short game information around. As we mentioned in our first video set, we aren't looking to provide safe information. Our goal is to provide the best information and then show you how to both perform it and instruct it.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the research study I’m currently undertaking is the practical application of it, here is a case study of a recent pitching lesson which yielded phenomenal results fast.
Issue: Direction and Distance Control
The inability to control distance can be attributed to 3 factors; Face Angle, Shaft Lean & Speed. Strike is a given. This particular player really struggled with directional control primarily which led to difficulty controlling distance.
In all golf shots the club needs to return to the ball after being swung on an incline of some sort, in the wedge game as well as the full swing there are a multitude of ways to make the clubhead move down, out and forwards. All are somewhat unique yet there are enough commonalities to classify these into different ‘styles’.
This players style required a high amount of lead arm rotation to move the clubhead outwards enough to hit the golf ball, this isn’t an issue for me and I wouldn’t attempt to directly change it, especially if it fits in with full swing traits. The problem to be aware of with this style is that the arc the clubhead travels on will be sharper i.e the clubhead path will be changing at a higher rate than other models.
The real problem here though was where the required lead arm rotation came from, as you’ll see in the picture below the lead hand is in a very similar position to address yet the lead elbow isn’t even close. The player is getting the rotation from the lower forearm/wrist and is proving uncontrollable.
I set out to alter the address alignments, bringing the lower forearm and elbow joints into closer but not identical alignment and asked him to think of them as more of a unit. The result of this was a slightly steeper plane angle, which by nature requires a little less lead arm rotation, an added bonus. The first half a dozen balls were small pushes, not a surprise as the lower forearm was much quieter. This then enabled me to increase the amount of shoulder turn on the downswing and straighten out the path that way, more desirable than relying on lead wrist.
Once we had the direction under control we set about reducing the smash factor to somewhere between 1.00 & 1.10, a combination of club choice and club path brought this down nicely and improved the consistency of the smash. Suddenly we had control of both distance and direction.
In summary we identified the players wedge style, the inefficiency in how it was used and fine tuned it into something that worked. Suddenly the magic numbers were far easier to find.
An exciting opportunity to learn from both founders of the highly successful Short Game Secrets video series this one day seminar will cover:
The Wedge Game: Learn from 3D, Ball & Club Data of the very best wedge players in the world. Optimise club delivery and use the clubs design to the players advantage. Find out what is compatible and incompatible in the world of wedge play, how to generate the most spin, most consistency and control over the golf ball.
Green Reading: Learn the ultimate step by step approach on how to read a putt as accurately and quickly as possible. John was one of the first AimPoint Certified Instructors in the world and has taught the system in over 10 countries across the world and to high level players like Charles Howell III and Edoardo Molinari
Putting: Learn how to quickly and positively effect aim and stroke by understanding and using putter design. This fascinating field of study can dramatically change your approach to equipment selection and coaching will accelerate the progress you can expect from pupils significantly.
Short Game Performance: Learn how to utilise the best metrics to assess and drive the improvement process in the short game. Are all statistics created equally? If not what's best to use and how do we use it?
Practice: Numerous drills, games and practice routines as used by the most elite players. Be sure to bring your clubs along as one of the main goals of this seminar will be practical application that you can add to your coaching toolbox.
Located at the finest short game facility in the UK in Cumberwell Park we look forward to revolutionising the way you see the short game and how to improve it. Class goes from 10-5. Bring you, your clubs and a notepad.
Cost: £200 including lunch, drinks and all learning materials.
At Short Game Secrets, we understand that putting is a multiple solution problem. For each situation, the player needs to come up with a solution they think is correct and that they can do. Because there are multiple solutions, there be some benefit and cost for each solution chosen.
Here's a quick little video talking about one of the costs of trying to die your putts in the hole.
Hope you enjoy it and please consider sharing using the buttons below.
Short Game Secrets is happy to announce another Major Championship discount on our popular 5 video set. From now until the first day of the 2014 US Open, the sale price for the 5 video set will be $99.99. This video set has recently been featured by Today's Golfer, one of the UK's top golf instruction magazines.
Along with this sale, we decided to give you chance to win the set for free. After purchasing, you'll be able to vote for a player to win the 2014 US Open and if they win, you'll receive the full purchase back as a refund. Over 3 hours of top quality short game instruction possibly for free.
To receive the $99.99 price you'll need to enter the discount code USOpen14 during check out.
We hope everyones season is off to a great start and please keep that feedback coming. We love hearing from you. Tell us how your stats have been improving and scores dropping. As always, we will continue to bring you cutting edge information and videos.
Short Game Secrets would like to try and answer this question along with some others. How much of a role does technique play on creating that low launching, high spin shot?
One of the concerns mentioned by coaches is whether or not the low launching wedge shot is a better alternative for the club player than a higher launching shot with a steeper landing angle to stop the ball. It's a fair question and one that should be looked at seriously. Recently, information has been presented to suggest that the higher shot would stop the ball faster than the lower shot and we thought we would do a similar test to see what we could find out.
Our results didn't match as our data suggested that the lower launching shot stopped closer to the landing point than the higher one. This test is described in the video below but while we were testing for that, we found something we felt was even more interesting.
In our data, we really struggled to get the ball to launch high regardless of the technique (while not rotating the face open). A square face at address with forward ball position and fast overtaking rates couldn't produce a higher launch assuming a good strike. It required us to put something on the face to get a higher launch.
This got us thinking. Is the 30º launch something that just happens with a new premium wedge, premium ball, tight lie and adequate technique or did it require something special? How important is the lie to the final launch conditions and thusly the final outcome?
This short little video attempts to touch on these subjects. Hope you enjoy it and please feel free to share it around.
I recently posted a blog entitled "The Premium Balls Test" that included a video discussing the results of 6 premium balls tested against one another to determine if there really is a difference between the balls we are convinced to spend hard earned money on, if you'd like to refresh your memory on what happened you can view it here
This generated a lot of interest and I promised that by mid May I would reveal the wildcard ball that is not in the premium ball price range yet outperformed almost all of them.
So here we are, it's mid May!
And the surprise package is.... TaylorMade Project (a)
So TaylorMade have produced a ball that is long off the tee & very soft around the greens, in fact they have produced a ball that should shake up the premium ball market forever and here's why..
I'm not sure why anyone would choose the more expensive balls (even from the same manufacturer) when this is available at almost half the price, what reason could there possibly be besides ego? Remind yourself when you next buy balls that this game is ALL about performance and this ball out performs the majority, if however you derive confidence from playing a more expensive ball then that is also going to enhance performance so that might be the way for you.
Just do me a favour and try these balls out, would love to hear your thoughts (you might even thank me!).