Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Coaching, as I've perceived it, is changing. 

For most of my experience it's been hands on, technique, mental and course management driven.

Though those elements will always be part of game improvement, I'm finding my role is more centered on simply getting people to play more, especially with younger players. 

No amount of information can replace the experience learned by playing. Information is the supplement not the main ingredient. 

So, in the interest of better golf; I'm going to learn to motivate more play. 

For a better game,

Monday, April 25, 2016

Manuel de la Torre

Manuel de la Torre, October 6, 1921 - April 24, 2016.

The first National PGA of America 
Teacher of the Year (1986)

PGA of America Hall of Famer

World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame 

Milwaukee Country Club Head Golf Professional and Instructor 1951-2016

Manuel was a fine and gentle man. Humble, kind and giving. 

He treated every person he encountered as No. 1.

He was a man of detail. Especially in the use of words.  Both in his instruction of others and as clues to a student's intent in the use of a golf club. 

His communication skills were superior to any instructor I've witnessed. Especially in listening. 

Students and instructors he worked with can attest. 

I'll never forget him asking me and others "What are you trying to do?"

From that simple question the lesson and the improvement began. 

His lesson tee was art on display. I've never seen anything like it. So few words and such vast improvement. 

His concept to game improvement is time tested but his search for a better game never ended. His passion was infinite. 

Because of it, his impact on the game is monumental. Thankfully it will perpetuate from his example and inspiring nature.

It will continue.

Today is a sad day but I rejoice and am grateful. 

Thank you Manuel. 


Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Stock Flop Shot

The flop shot may be one of most enjoyable shots in the game. It is very rewarding to see a ball fly high that lands next to a tight pin. So much so, that I've witnessed players use it for all their green side shots. 

So, what are you to do for this shot? 

Techniques vary. The typical method is to open the club face, open the stance and swing left while holding the face open (right hand player). 

This method works but it leaves the player wondering about how much to open the face, where to aim it once it's open, how open the stance should be, how far left should the club be swinging and how can it's flight be predicted to account for any given shot. 

The avid player can learn these variables through experience but there is an alternative method that is effective on grass or sand and provides some specifics. 

1. Open the face from 10-30 degrees all depending on how much loft you need. By my trial, 30 degrees seems to be the limit for the procedure that follows. (Vokey SM 5 M-grind)

Rotating the bade 10° is roughly a half inch at the toe.  

2. Aim the face an equal degree right of the target and address the club the same degree left. 

When the club is placed you'll notice the shaft shifts proportiately to the degree the face is aimed right. 

The club should be centered at address; meaning the shaft is entirely in line with the center of your body. 

The swing can be the same as your normal swing if you swing it back toe up, return it square while brushing the grass and continue to toe up forward. This motion should be uninterrupted. 

In principle, because the club was rotated open, the toe will be past vertical back (club horizontal to the ground), the face should be open to the target line at impact and the toe short of vertical forward (club horizontal to the ground).

The direction of the forward swing is to be made towards the line parallel to your alignment. Remember, brush the grass and continue swinging so the whole club points towards this line. 

I have not yet learned the precise face alignments or path directions at impact with sophisticated radar. 

The results though are interesting. 

On six shots with a 56 degree SW, two swings each with 10°, 20°, 30° set ups, all but one started straight. They split the difference of this 1:1 ratio in the set-up
and presumed impact condition. 

The launch angles in a larger sample of each range from 40 to 47 degrees. The 10 shot average data from a monitor is as follows: 

10°, 20° and 30° flop shots respectively:

If I use this procedure and execute the swing in my intended direction then the launch direction becomes fairly predictable. 

It's been a game changer and provides great versatility as it works for both my 56 and 60 degree wedges (10°-30°). 

Earlier I qualified that the precise face alignments and path directions at impact had not been measured with sophisticated radar. I believe this is necessary to determine why the ball flies in such a predictable way.  

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to utilize this shot and it's results. It's a fun shot and I'm tempted to use it for all my green side shots and maybe you'll discover this as well. 

So please consider and experiment with it in your own game. Try it and Enjoy. 

All for a better game,


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pre-School Golf Field Trips

Golf Courses can benefit by hosting a local Pre-School to a field trip at their facility. They can be an important part in introducing golf and a course to kids 4-5 years of age, orientating their parents to a facility and thus benefiting the game.

Two Rivers Golf Club, Dakota Dunes, SD schedules two field trip days with the local “Little Scholars Pre-School.” Their school has 4 classes with each making a 1 to 1.5 hour visit, two classes attend per day. Teachers and parents volunteer to assist our staff in all aspects for the 60 total students. 

Each trip begins with an enthusiastic welcome and a caravan cart tour of the golf course. The tour stops at a tee, a green and a bunker to show off the grass and sand. There is a lot to "show off" to these young juniors, such as wildlife, trees and friendly patrons. For most students, this is their first exposure to a golf course and a cart ride is always fun.

The tour ends at the practice area where we present putting, chipping and the full swing with our US Kids 39” demo clubs. 

Each student has the opportunity to make their 1st putt, their 1st chip and their 1st full swing with a ball. Safety and Fun are the priority as well as each student given a chance to experience these three aspects of the game. The smiles are priceless.

We conclude with snack time in the food and beverage area. We thank everyone and present each student a score card, pencil and logo golf ball.  The volunteer parents typically have a lot of questions about golf, the facility, rates and services. It is an invaluable marketing opportunity.

This program is one of our strategies to grow our Junior TEAM golf program and to involve more families at our facility. It is working despite the competition from other activities like baseball, soccer, basketball, etc... Golf has a lot to offer and we find it helpful to expose it at this age.

We believe this can be a long term solution to grow our club and also envision it as a model for other facilities to benefit the game.  

We encourage all facilities to consider and try this program. It’s proving to be successful at Two Rivers and the smiles are priceless!

All for a better game,

Friday, February 12, 2016

Replace the Whole Club 3" Forward on the Grass

Replacing the whole club 3" forward (target side) of the ball on the grass is an effective technique for solid ball striking. This applies to full and short swings alike. 

Start with the whole club centered on your body at address. The ball should be just ahead of the face. See picture:

This procedure can be used for all level lies and regular shots, full swings or short swings. 

Then swing the club back and replace the whole club 3" forward or target side of the ball.. 

The motion produces an arc on the back swing and one on the forward swing. The latter is forward of the other. And preferably in the same direction. 

The club displays part of the radius of each arc. One ahead of the other. The following illustrates the two arcs with the club as the radius for each.

The following pictures display this illustration in motion. 

Two more:

The examples are numerous and are all a result of the club's swinging properties. The phrase "replacing the whole club" is just different language that produces the same result as swinging.

Here are some additional images. 

These are full swing examples but the technique is also very effective on chipping and pitching. Maybe even easier than the full swing due to speed. It especially helps the player who thins and chunks shots. The strike is very solid.

I encourage to you experiment with it. There is evidence of it in skilled player's swings and it could be your means to improve your own game.

Start with it around the greens, chipping and pitching. Be sure you are concerned with the "whole club" aspect. The club head only is a recipe for poor shots. 

Then carry it into your full swing practice. If you've learned and can execute this motion of the whole club then put it into play. Enjoy.

All for a better game,

Credit for this technique and it's language should all go to Manuel de la Torre. World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame 2005. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Golf Swing: Body Response

What does Body Response mean in golf?

It is an alternative approach to the body's role during a golf swing. It is the effect the moving club causes to the body rather than the conscious control of the body action or any restriction during the swing. 

We respond like this in our daily lives but do not think much about it. 

For example, you toss a ball and your body does all sorts of things including your back heel coming up. All without any conscious control of the body action. 

You simply tossed the ball with your arm and everything else responded. 

Unfortunately this is different than the typical approach to making a golf swing. 

Most players try controlling their body action instead of controlling their club action while they play or practice. 

Remember, the club strikes the ball not you. 

Do you see the difference? 

Have you fallen victim and struggled with trying to perform all the body actions, in an order during the short duration of the golf swing?

I have. And you might be familiar with this funny but painfully true cartoon:

Manuel says in Learning Golf with Manuel written by John Hayes "you don't use the body to swing the club; it simply responds to your intent to use your arms to produce the forward swing."

Allowing your body to respond is a liberating approach to perform a golf swing and enjoy the game. 

It is effective and relative to the individual.  Golfers, as individuals, all have different body types and abilities. By responding, each player can benefit from the body action that fits that player. No two respond alike but their clubs can move similarly. 

Manuel demonstrated body response in an interesting way in an instructional seminar:

He asked a student to stand, turn his back and not allow him to push him off balance as he pushed on his back. Each time Manuel pushed, the student resisted and lost his balance.

Next, Manuel reversed the roles. The student pushed on Manuel's back and had a different result. Instead of resisting he responded to the push and simply bent over at the waist. The student wasn't able to push him off balance and we all learned "that's body response."

He transitioned this example into golf with the following quote:
"When the club requires you to go, you go."
So, as you initiate the back swing with your hands, you go and as you initiate the forward swing with the arms, you go.

This can easily carry into your game if you conceive the motion of the club and the action of the body as all one. Synchronized motion, 
"The back foot is the key to keeping the body and club synchronized."
Just like the ball toss example above, the back heel should be allowed to come up during the forward swing. Not in a forced way but in a direct response. It is the body's normal way.

As a player recently stated: "it seems so much simpler than bump hips  drop hands turn etc..."  The reply, yes, yes it is.

The list of body action directions is endless but thankfully it can be as simple as this player has discovered. Responsive action eliminates the need for conscious body control of a swing that lasts less than a second. 

Another example is the hips. Manuel has noted they do three things,  "they slide, tilt and turn." And as Manuel asks in Hayes' book, "Do the hips tilt more with during the swing with the Driver or with the swing of the sand iron?" Obviously, they would tilt more with the more vertical swing of the sand iron and turn more with the more horizontal swing of the driver. "Now you will need to be pretty smart to figure out the percentage difference in sliding, tilting and turning of the hips for all the different clubs," Only body response can manage these differences, they can not be consciously controlled.

The irony is that the more you respond the more your body will appear to be doing all the things you thought should be done consciously, including the hips. 

You see it all the time in juniors, like the one above, who swing and respond to the motion. It's pleasure to watch, the unity of motion and appearance of effortless power. It can be that simple. It's the normal way in our daily lives and it can be that way in our game too. 

All for a better game,

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Composite of Two Circular Motions

Webster's Definition:
  • : shaped like a circle or part of a circlemoving or going around in a circle

For this article, we'll focus on the club head, it's route and resulting shapes or forms. All as a result of the swinging motion; back and forth. 

These illustrations are from Manuel de la Torre's book: "Understanding the Golf Swing" with his swing being displayed. 

They are a on-plane view of the swing; meaning the camera lense is parallel to the plane of the swing. 

He describes the swing as "a composite of two circular motions....The circle that corresponds to the forward swing is forward of the circle that corresponds to the backswing."

The following is a radar produced near on-plane image from a GEARS golf advertisement. 

The yellow shade is the backswing the orange is forward until impact and the green forward past impact. 

The evidence is ample and clear. The composite of the two motions are circular with one forward of the other. This is especially found amongst skilled players.  

Players who use a casting motion will not create the two circular motions. Their circular shapes of the club head will overlap. 

So, to think of it as a single circle, or one with a fixed center is incorrect. 

The swing finds it's own center and is dynamic; it goes forward with the motion of the club. 

It is also incorrect to think that either is a perfect circle or on a perfect plane throughout, though they can be close. 

Perfect is not realistic due to speed, body response and the human condition.

With that said, the focus for any golfer should be on the motion and the direction of the club. 

The motion is simple; swing the club head back with the hands and the whole club forward with the arms. 

This will create the composite of two circular motions. 

With one circle forward of the other the directions can still be the same. And knowing the motion is circular is helpful for applying the direction. 

By "seeing" an arc and swinging the club back and forth upon it is an excellent technique to help control your ball flight. 

By consideration of this concept and applying the motion and direction, you can have a purposeful effect on your ball striking and it's flight. 

To conclude, the club head, it's route and resulting shapes or forms are circular. But it's two not one. A composite of the swinging motion; one back and one forth. 

All for a better game,

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Should Impact Position Be the Same as Address Position?

Manuel de la Torre, World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame '05, asked the following question in a November 2000 educational seminar:

"Should the club be in the same position at impact as it was at address?"

After some replies and comments to the contrary, he answered his own question:

"In principle, yes, the club should be in the same position at impact as it was at address. Though some differ due to personal mannerisms and play well despite of them."

Manuel advises the following club position at address and presumes it for this discussion. 

Obviously this static picture of address does not look like a typical dynamic picture of impact. 

So, how can they be the same?

He elaborated "because the body is turning at the top and everything is moving together. The body is moving and turning ahead of the club, so when it gets to the ball the club will be in that same address position but the body will be in this position (he displays the typical impact body position). So at that point this (pointing at the arm and club) will be in extension together."

"The impact position is something that just happens because of the turning action of the body in relation to the club's motion."

"The key thing: To hit a square object flush it must return as it was though the body would be turned and with the hands ahead it can not be flush."

At address he advises a neutral grip, the club centered as seen above and weight 50/50 on each foot. 

During the swing, the player can replace the club as it was addressed for "flush" contact even though the body position will be different. 

Read this related article concerning Sam Snead:

For your own improvement, try the following drill found in PGA Golf Professional John Hayes' book: "Learning Golf with Manuel"

Swing the club to the end of the back swing and stop; now return the club (the whole club) as it was at address and stop. Now hit the shot with the same intent, without any of the stopping, allowing the club to continue to the finish of the forward swing.
So the intent is to simply set the club back to the address position (see pic above) from the end of the back swing and let it continue to the finish.
Manuel said "this gives a student a good picture of impact, and it also takes the impulse to "hit" out of the equation."

This technique has proven itself to be effective on the lesson tee and on the golf course for students. And according to the article it worked well for Sam Snead too. 

So yes, in principle the club should be in the same position at impact as it was at address. Physically, the club may be different than at address but it's not something you do, its something that just happens because the body position is different.

Consider and experiment with this technique. It's simple, it works and is something you can do.

All for a better game,

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Swing and It's Plane

Swing is defined as "changing location by moving back and forth, ...to move in a curve or arc...."

A plane by definition, "is a horizontal shape in which no part is higher or lower than another."

See Trackman's definition here: http://blog.trackmangolf.com/swing-plane/

A golf swing moves the club head back and forth and produces an arc. This shape forms a plane, especially in the forward swing from est. waist high to waist high. 

Players can swing left, right or towards the target line. Each has its' own effect on ball flight depending upon the club face orientation at impact.

Good players consistently control their ball flight by use of their arms (shoulder to elbow) to produce the forward swing, its' resulting plane and how it relates to the target line. 

Dr. Young-Hoo Kwon writes in his 2012 paper "Asessment of Planarity of the Golf Swing Based on the Functional Swing Plane of the Clubhead and Motion Planes of the Body Points in Golf":
 "the arms work somewhat independently from the trunk in a fashion to secure a clean planar motion of the clubhead..." 
"Trunk rotation and linear shoulder motion...tends to promote an off-plane motion of the clubhead (and a spiral swing) by pulling it down past the functional swing plane."
This latter action is common and should be avoided in trying to control ball flight. The spiral action of the club head across the desired line is a primary cause of slicing, pulls or bad hooks. 

Players who do this often think their fix, understandably, is to "stay on plane" but this misguided. 

As Manuel de la Torre states:
"How many of you have tried to stay on the plane? If you swing it, it will be on plane but to do so consciously is nearly impossible. Plus there are 14 of them through the bag."
A better prescription would be to produce the forward swing with the arms and apply the desired forward direction of the club (clubhead). 

The plane will take care of itself.

All for a Better Game,

Monday, January 18, 2016

Swing: To Move Back and Forth

The golf swing can be conceived simply and executed effectively as a back and forth motion. 

To some this is unconventional, different or unique but it fits the definition of swing and it can benefit your game if executed.

In the act of swinging, the club head travels back and forth on an arc and a circle if the forward swing is extended. 

It's circular shape is well evidenced.

Please look at the following five pictures that demonstrate the swing. Is your concept a back and forth motion?

Back and over the shoulder

Swing it forward from the end of the back swing.

These pictures display a common and effective method of swinging. Toe up back, the face square on the ball and toe up forward with the whole club pointing at the target. 

It produces a shallow angle of approach, straighter ball flight and other benefits. 

Now observe the following four pictures that demonstrate conceiving the swing in a up and down motion. 

This is also common but the pictures demonstrate that up and down is different than back and forth in both concept and in direction. 

I believe these differences compete with the idea of producing a shallow approach, straighter ball flight and other benefits. 

If you think it is an up and down motion and are interested in back and forth then please consider it as Manuel de la Torre describes:

 "The club isn't up there and the ball down there. They are both on the same circle."

Please read that again and refer to the forward swing pictures above.

Can you see both the club head and ball on the same circle during the swing?

Words have meaning and the concept you possess matters to your game. 

In the definition of swing you will not find the word down because it describes a different concept and direction than forward. 

And physics tells us "if an object is being propelled in a certain direction with another object, the direction of both objects must be the same." 

Down and Forward are different directions. 

Manuel writes it this way: "The club should be swung with the intention of sending the ball to the target not with the intention of driving the ball into the ground..." 

The target is forward. 

Now imagine the difficulty in swinging down at 80-100 mph and then trying to change the direction to forward. It can't be done. But it can be done relatively easily by swinging it forward from the beginning.

For these reasons and the short duration of the swing, I advocate "forward" solely for intent and execution. Especially to the average player who hears it typically described solely as a downswing. 

Use this picture as a mental image of forward as you swing. 

You might ask: Can I miss the ball? No. 

Remember, the club head and ball reside on the same circle. The swing and it's properties are on a tilted plane that matches the ball. 

You will not miss.  

I encourage you to consider these ideas and experiment with them. Swinging the club back and forth is a simple and effective way to conceive and execute the motion. 

It may be different or unique but it fits the definition of swing and it can benefit your game if executed. So try it!

Swing it Forward
All for a Better Game,