What is what I call “Divot And Pivot? In short, it’s the key to solid golf contact time after time.
I can honestly say this one is “Original TP.” I tell all my students if I could give them two skills for Christmas, they would be the ability to compress/hit down on the golf ball and the ability to pivot the body without interruption through the impact area.
Let’s talk “down” first: the ability to allow (not cause) the arms and golf club to fall down plane.
I always refer to one of the great teaching professionals of all time as Isaac Newton. Remember that gravity thing? Wonderful thing about gravity — it always falls DOWN! Never falls up, in, or outward. It’s amazingly consistent both in its direction as well as speed. If I proposed to hold a golf club the height of the top of your backswing as I had you lie flat on the ground, and then dropped the club on your head, would you like that? Of course not!
Why? Because even in that short distance, the accelerating club head, due to the force of gravity, would be moving rather quickly. You don’t have to create speed — speed via gravity will do the job just fine. Look at Fred Couples: his club moved plenty fast during his career. Remember, in golf swingers last longer then hitters. Allowing one of the most consistent forces in nature to become one of the primary speed sources of your downward motion would pay you huge dividends. It’s a brand of trust that must be developed over time.
LOSE THE TENSION
I hear teachers talk about tension and discuss grip pressure, but I believe that grip pressure is too elementary an explanation. I think any tension in the upper extremities (hands, arms, shoulders, or neck) will do great damage to the ability of the player to freely swing the club head in an on-plane downward descent. Master your tension levels and make Isaac Newton your friend and learn how to enjoy higher compressed golf shots.
Now that we have the club swinging downward, we must be sure it also moves forward to the exact point of impact. After all, impact is in fact the moment of truth. As the club falls downward as discussed earlier, we must simultaneously move it forward by pivoting the body. The pivoting action of the golf motion might be the most under-taught and underdeveloped area in golf today. I ask every student I work with, “have you ever seen a great athlete in any sport with bad footwork?” A point guard, a great running back, a tennis player, a shortstop, a gymnast? No! Likewise, to play great golf you have to develop great footwork. The ability to unlock the mystery of great footwork leads to great leg work, which then allows the core of your body to unwind and deliver force at the moment of truth.
THE BALANCE BOARD
I have developed a wonderfully simple training aid called the TP Balance Board (see it at www.tompatri.com). The TP Balance Board has been nothing short of miraculous in allowing my students to learn how to use their feet, leg, and core. I give my students simple images of finish positions I want them to aspire to. I want them to finish with their trail foot fully 100 percent vertical on its toe. I want them to feel their right knee touch their left knee at completion. I want them to finish facing their intended target, both in balance and level with the horizon.
Now here is the real challenge to hitting solid, on-line, compressed golf shots. The divot (downward descent of the arms and clubs) and the pivot (the footwork, legwork and unwinding core) must in concept be done at the same RPM’s.
The sequence of these two actions must be blended together in a very balanced, coordinated manner. Master the blended action of these two vital skills and your strikes will become amazingly solid. You’ll compress shots like never before.
Remember the simple catch phrase:
“Divot and Pivot.”
Tom Patri is a former Met PGA Teacher of the Year as well as a former South Florida PGA Teacher of the Year. He teaches at Esplanade in Naples, Florida during the winter months and on Long Island each summer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org