ONE ON ONE WITH DR. DAVID WRIGHT
MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY DEVELOPED FROM THREE YEARS OF RESEARCH I did in Dr. Frank Jobe’s biomechanics lab at Centinela Hospital in Los Angeles. We placed 1,000 sensors in each shoe to measure center of force and static and dynamic balance. We also placed 40 light electrodes on our subjects’ bodies and four on every club and putter they used. We also used eight high-speed cameras around the perimeter of the ceiling line to capture every setup position, swing and putt and a launch monitor to determine ball and clubhead speed and ball spin. In total, the research took three years to complete. We placed our subjects in 75 different setup positions, and they used four different grip sizes to swing and putt.
Golf’s fundamentals haven’t changed. We’ve measured and refined the setup so that it should make instruction easier and players better golfers, regardless of what swing mechanics are being taught. You won’t find a teaching pro who will argue with the importance of fundamentals and precise balance in setup and swing or putt. Balance and body symmetry are compatible with every golf swing that’s taught. It’s simply individualized to fit a person’s body signature.
If there’s a problem with the swing, 90% of the correction is in a player’s balance (his or her setup). The other 10% of the problem resides in the swing’s sequence.
Not everyone can set up like Tiger or have Davis Love III’s hand position at the top of his or her swing. Each person has a personal body signature: a different spine angle and knee flex, a different shoulder tilt and hand and impact position at address, a different stance width, etc. That’s why I measure every one of my students. Body symmetry shows up throughout a balanced setup and optimizes a player’s ability to rotate more fully and place less stress on his or her body.
I tell my students that they should practice their setup at home or in their office, not at the golf course or range. You can’t think and swing at the same time. Golf is a game where you should have a 100% visual focus when you swing. You shouldn’t think about club positions or path. Fifteen minutes a day is enough time for setup practice and motion drills so that your setup and swing become automatic within a couple of weeks.
Whenever you put an instrument of any kind in your hands, your entire body makes subtle adjustments. When you place a golf club in your hands, it’s no different. We all have different-sized hands, yet grip size hasn’t changed. This makes no sense to me.
The majority of club changes have been in shaft and clubhead. Very few things have been done with grips since the transition from leather to rubber. Most grip manufacturers make 4-iron and wood grip sizes. Clubs are sold with one grip size (standard—900 to 915 mils), and most players never change that size. Larger putter grips arrived en masse after K.J. Choi won on the PGA Tour with a very large grip. That’s the mentality of the industry. If it works for a PGA Tour player,it must be good for all. There has been no science to support that transition. Our research shows that the grip size K.J. uses is likely good for many NBA players but not your average golfer.
Grip size determines how well a player can get the club into the fingers for maximum power and control. Grip size impacts posture, balance and your full swing and putting motions. This was one of the breakthrough observations that came out of my research from Dr. Frank Jobe’s biomechanics lab. We discovered a unique connection between balance, body symmetry, posture, stance width, grip size, and swing and putting efficiency. I call it the “new science of the fundamentals.”
Players see an immediate change with their putting and swing when they have the proper grip size, stance width and ball position. Your ability to properly place your hands on the club in the fingers of your weak hand is totally related to grip size.When a grip is too small or too big, a player moves the butt of the club toward the heel of the palm. It’s no coincidence that that’s where you see the wear inmost amateurs’ gloves.
We just launched a useful website, gripsize.com, where players can get their grip sizes, stance widths and ball positions for putter, irons and woods, plus instruction right from their personal computer. All you have to do is input a few measurements, and we’ll e-mail your stance widths, and putter-, iron and wood-grip sizes. You can get any one or all of those measurements.
Dr. David Wright, PGA, teaches at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California. To learn more about him and his teaching philosophy, visit wrightbalance.com.