QA Slip-Sliding Away

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Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from The Golf Channel's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Frank, Ive noticed that when Im hitting my driver, my feet for some reason turn back and forth like a washing machine. This causes me to be very erratic with my drives. Ive tried buying new shoes, but this doesnt seem to help. I do better when I hit my three-wood and I have no such problem with my irons.
 
Im a 17 handicap mainly because my drives go anywhere between 160 and 230 yards depending on how much my feet slip. My shot pattern is that the ball generally has tremendous side spin depending on the spin of my feet, and it either goes very high and stops in the fairway and backs up a couple of feet or goes way to the right or left. The only good thing about this is that I am a very good golfer once I get off of the tee. I have had to work on the other parts of my game to make up for my slipping feet.
 
Can you recommend a drill or a brand of shoes that will keep me from sliding everywhere? This problem easily costs me 5 ' 10 shots per round.
Thank you for any advice you can give me. -- Steve

 
Steve,
When I was doing some work at the USGA on swing dynamics, we tried to demonstrate some of the ground forces involved during the swing. This was most successful when we had a three-foot-diameter aluminum disc built, and we mounted it on ball bearings so it would turn easily about a central axis. When I stood on this disc and tried to make a golf swing, my feet would turn in the opposite direction as the takeaway, and opposite again in the downswing. This rotation of the disc got even more exaggerated when the club was swung like a baseball bat, then eased up as the plane of the swing plane became more upright (vertical).
 
Your swing plane does change from your driver to your wedge, so it makes sense that this is a problem on the drive and not on your irons. It does not make sense, however, for your feet to slip under you during the swing, unless youre hitting from a very slippery wet tee or have no spikes on your shoes. I suspect youre not transferring weight properly, and need to get some good teacher to look at your swing. One drill you might try is to swing with your feet very close together; this will quiet the action of your feet, and make sure youre turning rather than shifting and sliding. You might also try stepping through your swing on the follow through as Gary Player has sometimes suggested.
 
Good luck and hope this helps.
 
Frank,
I recently purchased two Adams Tight Lies Idea iWoods, the 17-degree 3-iron and the 21-degree 4-iron, intending to replace the 3- and 4-irons from my Adams Tight Lies Tour irons. However, contrary to what I've read, I've had much more of a problem hitting these iWoods than I did hitting the regular 3 and 4 irons. Although I've hit a few very solid shots, the vast majority of shots so far have been considerably shorter with the iWoods.
 
I'm 58 and play to about an 18 handicap. My distances with my 3- and 4-irons were about 180 and 170 yards respectively. Overall, I seem to have lost about 10-15 yards with the iWoods. Any ideas? -- Gerry

 
Gerry,
Im surprised by what youve told me. The Adams iWood 3 and 4 are hybrids and should perform better than the Idea Tour 3- and 4-irons. The problem may be that you have a considerably higher trajectory than is normal with the hybrids. This may decrease your distance. On the other hand, the shaft flex may not be suitable for your swing and/or the hybrid is more than an inch longer than the iron it is replacing which would account for a decrease in accuracy.
 
If the flex and length are right, then maybe your game just fits irons better than hybrids. You should go with the clubs that work for you, even if your experience is unique.
 
For more on hybrids click here.
 
Frank, I am 59 years old and play to a 1.5 average index. However, I am finding it increasingly difficult to maintain my distance, especially with the driver. I play a TM 580 9.5 regular graphite shaft and can only carry the ball about 205- 210 yards. With normal roll I get an average distance of around 220-225 yards. I also have a Titleist 905R 10.5 regular graphite with which I have been repeatedly measured at 220 carry, but the ball comes down dead and I get almost no roll. My accuracy is excellent and I miss very few fairways. I often have to play courses that approach 6900-7000 yards in competition. While my short game is normally very good, the pressure of being 20-40 yards behind my opponents forces me to play in a very non-aggressive manner.
 
Would you advise trying a longer shaft? Is there anything else that might help me get that 20-30 yards I have lost in the last 5 years? Playing shorter courses is not really an option, as I play in numerous State tournaments. I really enjoy your commentaries and column on the Golf Channel. You seem to call it straight, and thats why Im asking. -- Mike

 
Mike,
Don't give up -- we may have a solution. Its not an equipment solution, because I don't think this is an equipment problem. At your swing speed, in the low 80s, about the best you can expect is your carry of 210 yards and a total of 230 with roll.
 
The best thing you can do is to improve your range of motion. This will give you about 15 to 20 yards more than you have now, assuming you havent already been working on your strength and flexibility. Experiments have shown a significant improvement in club head speed when the range of motion improves. Your only other real option may be to work with a teaching pro to change your technique ' though with a handicap of 1.5 you probably shouldnt look to change too much.
 
The average male drives the ball 192 yards with a head speed of about 80 mph. so youre actually hitting the ball well for your speed. If you want more distance, you must get the head speed up a little. Get permission from your doctor first, then go ahead with an exercise and stretching routine, and you just might find most of those extra yards youve lost. Hope this helps.
Frank
 
Frank, I read one of your recent articles and it sounds like it's harmful to clean a golf ball in the dishwasher? Is this correct? ' Jeff
 
Jeff,
Youve got it.
 
Dont try to wash your golf balls in the dishwasher. The water absorption rate will increase dramatically at the high steaming temperatures your dishes, pots and pans need to get them clean. A damp cloth should be enough to clean most of the dirt off the ball. Water is one of the best all-round solvents know to us. If you really have a problem getting it clean then add a light detergent. This should, however, not be necessary in most cases.
 
A good rule of thumb is not to expose your golf balls to conditions or agents to which you are not normally prepared to expose your body, with some obvious exceptions.
 
Frank
 
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com