Flaws And Fixes 2004

Cure common faults by getting to the source

Develop A Neutral Swing Plane Fault: Hitting Iron Shots Well, But Woods Poorly, Or Vice Versa
Fix : Develop A “Neutral” Swing Plane And Path

When the player’s swing path into impact is too shallow or steep, only one part of his or her game becomes manageable. The inability to attack the ball from a neutral or “on-plane” position makes it almost impossible to be consistent with both the irons and the woods, and a variety of specific problems like fat (too steep) and thin (too shallow) iron shots and pulled and pushed tee shots are the result. 

If you’re unable to hit the driver but have moderate success with the irons, it’s fairly safe to say your downswing is too steep. As long as the ball is on the ground, this steeper attack can produce some decent shots, particularly with the mid- and short irons, because it encourages striking the ball before the turf. In some cases, this produces abnormally long short-iron shots, but very poor long-iron and fairway-wood shots. When the driver is hit with an excessively steep attack, the ball usually is popped up, pulled, sliced or hit extremely low.

If you have better success with the driver than the irons, then your swing path is probably too shallow (too flat). Playing from an overly shallow angle of attack makes it much easier to hit a ball off a tee than off the ground because the clubhead approaches impact on a sweeping path. If the ball rests on the turf, it becomes quite difficult to make solid contact with this path because the club’s leading edge tends to strike the ball before the clubface, creating thin, drop-kicked, and pushed and hooked shots. A wedge shot from a tight lie is a nightmare with this type of swing.

The long-term method of fixing overly steep and flat swing paths is learning to swing on a more neutral path. Using the original shaft line at address as a reference point, the clubhead should approach the ball from an almost identical line. If the clubhead is under or inside that line, then it’s excessively shallow, and if it’s over or outside that line, then it’s excessively steep. Grooving the proper angle will create consistency with all the clubs in the bag and dramatically improve your ballstriking and distance. For a reference, use your forearms as guides. In a solid downswing approach, the clubshaft should lie between them, with the grip end of the shaft pointing at the golf ball.

Improved Setup Fault: Pop-Up Drives
Fix: Improved Setup

As previously discussed, pop-ups with woods off the tee are caused by an excessively steep angle of attack. In many cases, a ball position that’s too far back in the stance and an upper body that isn’t tilted away from the target at setup (or at impact) encourage this steep angle. The result is a chopping motion on the downswing that’s totally incompatible with hitting a ball from a tee.  

The long-term solution to this problem is creating an impact position where the upper body is tilted slightly away from the target. This begins by setting the ball more forward in the stance at setup, with the left shoulder in line with the left hip, which effectively tilts the upper body away from the target and creates a slightly flatter turn of the shoulders on the backswing. As the downswing begins, a slight bump of the hips further tilts the upper body away from the target, enabling the club to approach the ball from a shallower angle, and eliminating the pop-up for good.

PGA professional and Senior Instruction Editor Brady Riggs instructs at Woodley Lakes Golf Course in Van Nuys, Calif. Special thanks to Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark, Calif.



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