Bump and Run Ai and Mighty

By David AllenOctober 9, 2009, 8:00 am
We know it's difficult to find time to practice during the week. When a Saturday or Sunday tee time rolls around, you're hoping to find some spark or productive swing thought that will help you break 100, 90, 80 or whatever your scoring goal may be.
With the weekend warrior in mind we created Bump and Run, a weekly Q&A with some of the game's top instructors. Each Friday, a teaching professional will occupy this space and answer questions directed toward improving your game. This week we have two of the game's top coaches, VISION54 co-founders Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson.
Lynn Marriott and Pia NilssonLYNN MARRIOTT & PIA NILSSON
Co-founders, VISION54, Legacy Golf Resort, Phoenix

- Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers
- Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers
- Authors, Every Shot Must Have a Purpose (2005); The Game Before The Game (2007)

Notable Students (past and present): Annika Sorenstam, Ai Miyazato, Brittany Lincicome, Suzann Pettersen, Kevin Streelman
Web Site:
Contact: 602-482-8983

The core principle behind VISION54 is that every golfer has unlimited potential. For years, no player was more synonymous with VISION54 than Ms. 59 herself, Annika Sorenstam. The LPGA Hall of Famer believed it was possible to birdie every hole, and nearly accomplished that goal in 2001 when she birdied 12 of her first 13 holes en route to a 13-under-par 59 at the Standard Register Ping tournament.

Sorenstam retired after last season, but the VISION54 model is stronger than ever, embodied in such current LPGA stars as Ai Miyazato, Suzann Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome.

'Everybody misses seeing Annika out there, and we’re certainly no different,' said Marriott. 'For so many years people thought Annika was the only one who could do the things that we coached. Now, it’s fun to see how an Ai Miyazato or a Brittany Lang accomplish their 54. This just doesn’t work for Annika, but for all different types of personalities and players.'
To submit a question to Marriott and Nilsson or one of our teachers, please e-mail bumpandrun@thegolfchannel.com and check back every Friday to see if your question got answered. 

One of your players, Ai Miyazato, has enjoyed a breakout year in 2009 with 12 top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour. What clicked for her this year?

Pia: When she came to the U.S. she had to deal with a new country, new courses, a new language. …she lost herself as a golfer. What made her such a fantastic golfer in Japan was her rhythm and tempo and her inner strength. She lost all of that. We had to go back to tempo training, balance training, and tension awareness. From that base, we gave her some technical things to improve upon, and advised her on what she should stay away from. For example, she had to quit working so much on changing her grip and squaring the clubface. It messed up her game almost to point where she had the yips with her driver. We made sure all the other things got good first and while working on those things, her clubface started to square up more, without even focusing on it.

Japan's Ai Miyazato is the picture of good tempo.
It was pretty obvious her grip was too strong, which caused the closed clubface. When she tried to isolate the grip it didn’t work. It just created more tension. By being more aware of tension and tempo in her swing, her face became more square. And she got her distance back. This year, she gained 15 yards with her driver. She’s hitting it farther now than ever before. People like to say she’s sneaky long. It doesn’t look like it’s going to go very far, but it sneaks up there.

Miyazato is known for her slow, languid swing and easy tempo. How would you define tempo?

Lynn: Tempo is a full analog sensation. When you start to work on pieces of the swing, like your clubface position halfway back (at 9 o'clock), you can't have tempo. Tempo is a whole sensation. People can get their clubface in a better position but their tempo is horrible. That doesn’t transfer to the golf course.

Is there a drill that will help you establish a good tempo and rhythm before you tee off?

Lynn: With Ai, she’ll take a couple of clubs from her bag, including a mid-iron and a driver, and swing them at four different tempos – 25, 50, 75 and 100 percent. The key to this is when you swing at 25 percent of your full tempo, you do it so it’s constant and consistent throughout. And you complete the whole swing. You don’t stop at impact or halfway through.

Pia: Most people know they have to work at tempo, but it's an intellectual thing. The only way it will ever work is if you feel it in yourself when you’re swinging. The main purpose of Ai's drill is to get your body to feel or sense the difference between these four tempos. From there you can capture what combination of these four tempos is going to help you swing best on a particular day. This way, you’ll have an awareness of your tempo and be able to modify it on the course. You need to feel it in your body to know the difference.

Jack Nicklaus said that when he wanted more distance, he would slow down his swing. Is there an ideal tempo for the driver?

Lynn: It completely depends on the person and what they can do physically. Nicklaus is a perfect example: If physical assessments and screens had been around when he was a player, we would have found out why he had a flying right elbow or why he had to lift his left heel on the backswing. He made the most of that swing with a slower tempo.

Pia: We were at The Barclays with [PGA Tour player] Kevin Streelman, and the last day he was warming up on the range he had Tiger Woods on his left and Padraig Harrington on his right. Tiger hit a lot of wedge shots with a super-slow tempo, and Padraig performed these drills where it looked as if he was forcing the tempo beyond 100 percent. It was fascinating to see. That’s why we want players to check it out and see what’s the right value, or tempo, for them. In general, there’s a lot of men over 30 years old who are swinging the club at a faster tempo than their bodies can handle. They’re not aware they’re so inflexible. On the other side, there’s a lot of women who swing too slow at the ball, who don’t dare increase their tempo and let it flow to the finish of the swing.

Any advice for the weekend warrior? Something that may help them drop a shot or two during their Saturday or Sunday round?

Pia: There’s so many things that influence their technique when they’re playing, so it’s so important they don’t try and make these big dynamic swing changes. If they’re doing any swinging at home in their living room or out on the lawn, it’s much more beneficial to do some balance drills standing on one leg or with both feet together. On the range, hit four shots with four different grip pressures just to check the tension level in the grip. These things will help you swing better with the mechanics that you have.

One more thing is that they’re really clear with their decisions, and that they have the guts to stick with them. If you’re a weekend golfer, it’s not that hard of a skill to learn and it will help you play better golf with what you have. You can’t cram in golf. When you tee it up, you have the swing you have, so what’s the best you can do with it?

One of our readers is having problems shanking his short wedges. It's something he started doing this season and he can't get it fixed. Any suggestions?

Lynn: Check the distance from your ball at address. Often we find that people who shank it actually are standing too far away from ball. That results in too flat an angle coming into the ball, which leaves the face open. By getting closer to the ball, they get the plane steeper. Secondly, keep the energy or tempo in your swing the same to the finish.

Pia: Have constant grip pressure. When it’s a shorter swing, there’s less clubhead speed and you have a little fear going on, it’s easy to change grip pressure. Whatever grip pressure you start with, keep it constant until the end of the swing.

Related Videos from Lynn Marriott & Pia Nilsson
  • Lynn Marriott: Check Your Grip Pressure
  • Short Game Practice Advice
  • Golf 54 - Pt. 1 - Introduction
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.