Bump and Run The Real Reason Why You Slice

By David AllenOctober 22, 2009, 7:07 pm
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 at improving your game. This week it's Kevin Walker, President & CEO of FuZion Golf and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers.
Kevin Walker HeadshotKEVIN WALKER
President & CEO, FuZion Golf, Jupiter, FL

Accomplishments:

- Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers
- 2004 Horton Smith Award (contribution to education), New England PGA
- 1995 Colorado PGA Section Teacher of the Year

Notable Students (past and present): Brad Faxon, Tom Kite, Gary Hallberg, Mark Wiebe
 
Web Site:
fuziongolf.com

Contact:
561-743-4470

Walker, who has taught at such places as Nantucket Golf Club, Castle Pines Golf Club, Doral Golf Resort & Spa and Kapalua Resort, formed FuZion Golf along with partner Chris Dempsey after years of watching clients unknowingly use faulty equipment.

'Basically, I found out that the equipment being sold to me to sell to my clients wasn’t being built to the standards it should’ve been,' said Walker. 'I felt there was an opportunity to help players get to a higher level by combining precision instruction along with precision equipment.'
 
To submit a question to Walker or one of our teachers, please e-mail bumpandrun@thegolfchannel.com and check back every Friday to see if your question got answered. 

Why is it so important to get custom fit for golf clubs?

Buying something off the rack is not advisable for anybody because the chances of it being right for you are slim. At the very least, if the equipment is checked or tested for weight, length and firmness, you have a chance for a semi-matched set of clubs. Unfortunately, there are very few golf shops that are equipped with an analyzer to measure the actual firmness of shafts.

If you buy your clubs incrementally, which is what most people do – driver one year, new set of irons the next – you're going to have very different profiles and flexes just because of the random nature by which the manufacturers produce their stuff. So now, if you’ve got clubs that are not matched to each other, the only way to hit the same type of ball flight is for you to adjust your golf swing. That’s pretty hard to do, especially for the average golfer.

You often hear people say, 'I love my 5-iron but I can’t hit my 7-iron.' That's because the specs don’t match each other.

Drivers from PGA Merchandise Show
Buyer Beware: Most clubs off the rack do not come as advertised.
What should the average consumer be most aware of when buying clubs off the rack?

There's one big buyer beware. Equipment manufacturers will go to one of the shaft manufacturers and say, 'We want your shaft in our new line of drivers next year, and we’ll pay you $5 per shaft and buy 200,000 shafts.' What the shaft manufacturers do is produce a shaft that’s basically rolled graphite – what we call no profile – and put the paint scheme on it that the equipment manufacturer wants. It’s completely random. When you buy something off the shelf, you can’t have it tested, and your chances of it being the firmness it says is almost nothing. The inside joke here at FuZion is that the 'S' on the stiff shaft stands for Senior [flex], because that’s what they usually come out to. I’ve seen extra-stiff shafts flexed out at ladies’ flex, but it says 'S' or 'R' on the shaft so the consumer is trusting the manufacturer.

What can you do as a club-fitter to get me more distance, strictly from an equipment standpoint?

What happens a lot of times is that you can have a fairly efficient swinging motion, but if you’ve got the wrong profile of equipment in your hands it’s not going to efficiently transfer energy to the golf ball. We look at ball speed and smash factor. If someone has 100 miles per hour of clubhead speed then we ought to be able to get him up to 150 mph of ball speed. If you consistently see someone making solid contact with the ball, but their smash factor is only at 1.40, something is causing a loss of energy transfer. And a lot of times it’s the shaft. Usually what we're looking for is a shaft that will transfer energy and give you maximum ball speed.

When you put someone on a launch monitor (Trackman), what numbers are you paying strict attention to from a club-fitting standpoint?

We’re looking at ball speed, launch angle and spin rate. We’re tying to optimize those three things to get the maximum smash factor (1.50). If you have 100 mph of clubhead speed and a 1.50 smash factor, that means your ball speed is 150 mph.

If you're someone with a low swing speed, you’re probably going to need a little higher launch angle and spin rate to keep the ball in the air longer. If you have a really high ball speed, then you want to reduce the spin as much as possible so the ball gets up in the air and stays in the air longer, and when it lands it gets maximum roll on the ground.

Too many people are starting to look at equipment now and say that spin is the enemy. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. As an example, my partner here at FuZion, Chris Dempsey, has a much higher ball speed than I do. If I reduced my spin rate to what Chris is trying to get his at, my ball would just fall out of the sky. I need spin to keep the ball in the air. Everything is lower spin, lower spin, lower spin, and that’s great for real high-speed players, but for the average consumer – the 15- to 20-handicap player – they need the extra spin.

Kenny Perry hitting driver off the tee
Learn to draw the ball consistently, like Kenny Perry, and you'll be able to manage your game much better.
What kind of feedback are you looking for from the Trackman as an instructor?

What I look for is the angle of attack (whether the club is ascending or descending into ball), path (from the inside, outside, or straight on), and clubface (open, square or closed).

The clubface determines where the ball starts, it’s not the path. The reality is the face determines where the ball starts and the path relative to the face determines which direction the ball curves. If your face is closed, the ball is going to start to the left of your target line. Therefore, if you want to hit a fade, the face needs to be closed at impact so the ball starts to the left of the target and curves back toward the target.

Traditional instruction says that an open clubface is what causes a slice. Not true?

It's possible the face is open; it depends on where the ball is starting. You’ll definitely slice it if the face is open at impact and the path is from the outside, but the ball will start to the right [of your target line] and curve farther to the right. That’s why you really have to look at what the starting direction of the ball is. What I’ll get people to do as a drill is put a shaft on their target line, about five yards out in front of them, and pay attention to which side of that shaft the ball is starting on. That  will tell you where the face is at impact. Once you’ve gotten the ball to start from the correct side of the target line for the desired ball flight, then you can work on your path to soften or make the curve greater.

So if I wanted to hit a draw, I'd want the face open at impact?

The clubface is going to be slightly open to the target, and the path is going to be slightly more from the inside than the face is open to the target. In other words, if your face is two degrees open to the target at impact, and your path is four degrees from the inside, then that’s a ball that will start slightly to the right [of the target line] and turn slightly to the left. I call it the 50 percent rule, which is if your face is two degrees open, and your path is four degrees from the inside, which is 50 percent, the ball will start slightly to the right and turn back to the target and stay within the target line; it shouldn’t cross over the target line.

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

Establish a shot pattern and do everything you can to not deviate from it. The best example is Bruce Litzke. When I worked for Jim McLean at Doral, we’d use Litke as an example all of the time. The guy does nothing but slice the ball, but he slices it every time. Kenny Perry is another good example: Every shot he hits moves from right to left. If the average golfer could go out and establish a pattern of ball flight, then they could go out and manage their game. If you slice the ball, you set up on the right side of the tee box, aim down the left side [of the fairway] and let it curve back at the target line. And you don’t fight it.

The average golfer gets in trouble because they don't have a consistent pattern; they’re always trying to hit a different shot shape or correct the ball flight. If you find a pattern and don't deviate from it, you'll be far more consistent.

Related Videos from
Kevin Walker:
  • A Lesson from Ben Hogan
  • Fixing Your Slice on the Range
  • Fixing Your Slice with a Steady Club

  • Getty Images

    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

    Getty Images

    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

    @kharms27 on Instagram

    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.