Use your surroundings to work on your swing issues

By Bill Schmedes, SwingFix InstructorJune 26, 2013, 8:30 pm

?As a golf coach, I often get asked about training aids. Which is the best on the market?

Players are always looking for a quick fix to improve their slice, hook, body pivot, ball striking, etc. There are a lot of good training aids on the market. There are also bad ones.

My suggestion for players: save your money and use your surroundings. The best training aid is what Mother Nature gives us at the golf course or practice facility, the undulation of the ground beneath the feet.

Golfers can improve many facets of the full swing by using four different slopes: uphill, downhill, ball beneath your feet, and ball above your feet.

Each slope can help with a multitude of different issues.

Below, I have listed some of the most common issues I see in players, and will provide the correct slope conditions to help turn a weakness into a strength!

1. Ball above feet. This slope helps players that have issues with the following: slicing, casting, angle of attack, losing angles (body dip toward ball), poor upper body rotation in the backswing and ball striking. I use this drill most often for the player that has problems with a slice. The slice is one of the most common ball flights I see out of the average golfer. One of the biggest reasons a player hits a slice is because they have what we call a “face-path relationship issue,” meaning the clubface is open to the swing path. If you’re a player that has an issue similar to this you need to use this slope to your advantage. With the ball above the feet it will help the player shallow out the downswing plane, allowing for an improved ball flight. A shallower downswing plane allows the clubhead to want to move more from in to out through impact. This will allow for a straighter ball flight and added power.

2. Ball below feet. Having the ball below the feet helps players that have issues with hooking, weight distribution, early extension and tempo. Personally, I believe using this slope is best for the player that has problems making consistent contact. The biggest reason players have this problem is due to early extension in the downswing. This means you lose your posture or spine angle as you come into the impact position. The hips tend to thrust inward toward the ball and the chest pulls upward out of the shot. How many times have you topped a shot and your playing companion says “you picked your head up?” You’re not picking your head up, you’re actually losing your angles. If you look at great players like David Duval and Annika Sorenstam their heads were not looking at the ball at all during impact. In fact, during the downswing, their heads were already turning with their body toward the target! By having the ball below the feet it will give the player the proper feeling of maintaining spine angle. You will feel your chest cover the ball more effectively and you will become a much better ball striker.

3. Uphill lie Practicing shots off of uphill lies can be effective for the player that has a hard time with their hip tilt, shoulder tilt, weight transfer and body pivot. Proper golf setup is extremely important to getting positive results. This lie will help you with two things: setup and body pivot. The uphill lie will force the player to have the trail shoulder and hip lower at address. The proper hip tilt helps the player load into their trail leg in the backswing and the proper shoulder tilt will give the player a better chance of taking the club back on the proper swing plane in the backswing. When working with this slope pay close attention to how the slope forces your upper body to load over the trail knee at the top of the backswing. Remember this feeling and try to recreate it in your normal swing. If you can make the proper body pivot in your backswing it will give you a better chance of making a successful downswing move.

4. Downhill lie. Using a downhill lie will help a player that has issues with lower body stability in the trail knee during the backswing, over rotation of the lower body in the backswing, level shoulder plane in the backswing, lateral sway in the takeaway and a poor weight transfer in the downswing. I use this slope often myself and it always helps me get back into correct form. When using this slope pay attention to the feeling as you begin your backswing. You will feel restriction between the lower and upper body. This means you’re creating more coil, and a better coil allows for more speed and power. The second thing I use this slope for would be my weight transfer from the top of the backswing, to impact, and into my finish position. I have a problem with rotating my hips too much in the downswing, which typically makes lower body out-race my upper body. When this happens the club can get stuck behind me and it also doesn’t allow my weight to fully load into my front leg at impact. This slope will force the body to want to move slightly forward as the body uncoils. It will force the player to create more speed and a consistent low point allowing for more distance and better ball striking.

Take an online lesson with Bill Schmedes III.

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x