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.

Getty Images

Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

Getty Images

Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

Getty Images

Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

Getty Images

Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.