golf, golf instruction, Kyiv, sports, Ukraine, Uncategorized

Finesse Wedges

It’s important to realize that in golf there are two swings – a power swing for big shots and another swing for performance inside thirty yards.  This swing technique we will call a finesse wedge.  With a finesse wedge we create a high soft shot with more backspin that stops quickly on the green. A finesse wedge is not only different from your full swing, but it is almost exactly opposite when it comes to sequencing. So it’s critical to practice them both.  Let’s get into the fundamentals of the finesse wedge.

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Seve Ballesteros shows off his finesse wedge setup

Start with the setup. The feet should be close together, with the front toe facing slightly out and left of the target. This allows us to stay balanced as we turn toward the target and release the club.  Next we need to establish the low point of the swing in front of the ball. This is done by slightly rotating the chest toward the target in setup.   

Take a very light grip with the trail hand slightly on top of the club and a soft fold in the elbows and the left wrist slightly cupped.  There should be just enough hip hinge for the arms to dangle straight down from the shoulders. Lastly, we want to stack the shoulders and hips so there is no lateral bend  away from the target like there would be in a power swing.

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Phil Mickelson demonstrates the “toe up” backswing

Keep the body rotation minimal, the backswing is done softly and mostly arms and hands. Do not take the club inside the target line, keep it on plane with the toe up In the power swing, the lower body and especially the hips are responsible for generating power. In the finesse wedge shot, their job is to create stability.

The downswing should be tension free as you let gravity pull the club down to impact position.  The shaft of the club should be close to vertical at impact as we do not want the forward shaft lean of the power swing.  The release will happen naturally if you relax and rotate your chest toward the target.  Your finish position will have your elbows slightly bent and the club in front of the chest.  The club face should point straight up to the sky.

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Fred Couples – elbows bent, left wrist cupped, club face pointing to sky

The sequencing of the finesse wedge is the exact opposite of the power swing.  With the power swing, the hips initiate the downswing and the shoulders, arms, hands and club head follow.  This sequence will not help your chipping. During the downswing of the finesse wedge, the  the club head moves first and everything else follows in reverse order, with the hips last to join in.

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Paul Lawrie releases toward the target

As you finish the shot, your momentum will pull your head and body slightly toward the target. Let it happen, and do not try to keep your head still after impact.  Allowing your head to flow toward the target helps to ensure that the low point of your swing is in front of the ball.

Confused? Don’t be. Let’s review our Top 5 Key Points.

 

1. Setup with feet close together and slightly open to the target

2. Backswing on plane with toe up

3. Release the club with soft elbows and club face pointing to the sky

4. Use optimal sequence for finesse

5.  Gently allow your energy to flow to the pin

Or just watch Anna on the video and do what she does!

 

golf, golf instruction, Kyiv, sports, Ukraine

Early Extension Fix (Swing flaw #2)

Most golfers know that to hit the ball with any power, you’ve got to use your hips. I knew about this for years, and I tried to use my hips in my swing but somehow I never got it right. Even worse, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. It was at the Titleist Performance Institute, at a seminar on golf biomechanics that I finally saw the light.

I had been trying to rotate my hips toward the target, but in the process I always lost my posture and ended up standing up straight at impact. What I didn’t understand for ages, but could see clearly on video, is that your spine angle at impact should mirror the angle at address. When it doesn’t, and the hips move forward during the downswing, this is called Early Extension.

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Early Extension

Once I understood the necessity of maintaining posture throughout the swing everything changed for me.  Right away I began to get a lot more consistent.  I wish I had understood it years ago, but it just wasn’t really emphasized in the instruction that I was getting.

When you early extend, there’s no room for your hands to move through the hitting area. Your hips are in the way and you’ve got to make crazy adjustments to get the club on the ball. This results in thin, topped or bladed shots and in general, really horrible contact.  It is impossible to hit with any power with early extension.

So how do you fix it? As Anna and I demonstrate in the video above, a great fix is the Butt on the Wall drill.  Focus on maintaining your spine angle at all times, and keeping contact between your butt and the wall. 

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good posture at address

Get in your 5 Iron stance and cross your arms in front of your chest.  Then back up to a wall so your butt barely touches it.  It doesn’t have to be a wall, just something stable that’s at least hip height. It could be your golf cart, a tree, a sign, or as we did in our video in Spain, you can even use a little trash bin.  Keep your spine angle and rotate your shoulders and hips, and maintain contact between your butt and the wall!

Once you get the feel for the wall drill, try hitting some balls on the range with the same feeling.  Have a friend video you from down the line and watch to see if you maintain your address posture throughout the swing. As you get better and better with the movement, you’ll begin to feel yourself sink into your right hip on your backswing, and into your left hip on your follow through. The result is more power and consistency.  Watch the video, and try it yourself!

 

fitness, golf, golf instruction, Kyiv, sports, Ukraine

Chicken Wing (Swing flaw #10) Fix

 

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Chicken Wing

Number ten on our list of Top Ten Swing Flaws , it’s the dreaded Chicken Wing.  The left elbow breaks down at impact, causing inconsistent contact and loss of power. The fix is easy, as Anna and I demonstrate in the video below.

Номер десять в нашому списку Top Ten Swing Flaws це страшне Куряче Крило. Лівий лікоть згибається при ударі, викликаючи невдалий контакт та втрату потужності. Виправити це легко, ми з Анною продемонструємо на відео нижче.

Get in your golf address position, take a towel or a rope and hold it between your arms and your chest.  Take a few half or three quarter swings and don’t let the rope fall out. This keeps your arms connected to your chest, and keeps the left elbow from flying out away from the body.

Стійте в стартовій позиції, візьміть рушник або мотузку і тримайте його між руками і грудьми. Зробіть кілька половин або три чверті замаху та не дозволяйте мотузці випасти. Це тримає ваші руки поруч та тримає лівий лікоть від вилетів далеко від тіла.

Make sure to make a good shoulder turn – and get that left shoulder over your right foot. Take a few swings without hitting a ball, and then go ahead and try to hit some shots. It’s easy to understand if you’re doing the drill wrong, because the rope will fall out.

Переконайтеся в тому, щоб зробити гарний поворот плеча  – щоб ліве плече було над правою ногою. Зробіть декілька замахів без м’яча, а потім  спробуйте вдарити декілька м’ячів. При цьому ви дуже легко зрозумієте, якщо ви робите замах неправильно, тому що мотузка випаде.

Practice this drill with or without hitting the ball, and not only will you make the chicken wing go away, but you’ll also prevent the flying elbow on your takeaway, and in general you will make much better contact with the golf ball.

Практикуйте цю вправу з або без удару по м’ячу, таким чином ви уникнете курячого крила, також ви уникнете літаючого ліктя на замаху, та й в цілому ви будете робити набагато кращий контакт з м’ячем для гольфу.

golf, Kyiv, sports, Ukraine

Kyiv Golf Academy

Welcome to the new site. Anna and I are back from America and living in Kyiv again. We are armed with new knowledge, new certifications, and ready to help grow the game of golf in Ukraine.  We will be sharing golf drills, fitness videos and course reviews from around the region.

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Golf Instructors

Since my last post under the VegasGolf byline, I became the Director of Golf at Kenmont/ Kenwood camp in Kent, CT, and worked all summer with Anna as my assistant instructor. I also  completed my Level 2 Golf Certification by the Titleist Performance Institute.

I’ve added a low draw to the old high fade I used to hit, scored my first hole in one and my first subpar round on a championship course (69). I got my SNGA Handicap down to 2, and I look forward to playing competitively around Europe.

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Anna’s Pebble Beach Trousers

Anna has become a very powerful golfer. In our last round before we left America, she reached the par 5 18th hole with a driver and a 9 Iron. She two putted from 4 feet for birdie, missing a chance for her second eagle. (She got her first hole in one last April) Not bad for a player with less than two years of golfing experience.  She also met Bill Murray at the AT&T Pro Am at Pebble Beach. The comedy legend and golf addict stopped by to compliment her on her trousers near the second fairway.

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Orange Tree GC, Scottsdale AZ

During our stay in America, we played a lot of golf all over the country, highlights included at Orange Tree in Scottsdale, Az, Bayonet in Monterey, Ca, Pasadera CC in Carmel, Ca, Southern Highlands CC in Vegas, Kenmont Links in Kent, Ct, and Timber Creek in Roseville, Ca.

We also attended PGA Tournaments at TPC Summerlin and Pebble Beach. It was great time for us to be golfers in America, but now we’re back in Kyiv and excited to start bringing you great golf instruction, fitness, course reviews and travel tips.

Thanks for reading!

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Jeff tees off at Pasadera Country Club, Carmel
fitness, golf, las vegas, sports

How to Generate Power?

This question has dogged me since my youth. My little brother seemed to figure it out, and he was longer than any of us. He couldn’t explain it to me in a way that I understood, though. Nor could any of my other friends who were low handicappers. I couldn’t get much out of the golf magazines I read either.  So I played round after round of golf with the same results: high weak fades that were fairly consistent. My short game became my focus, but I always knew there was something about the game that I was missing.

So now, I finally understand it, I’m hitting it farther than I ever have before, and my clients are getting it too! I will do my best to articulate in the simplest way possible. 

Power in the golf swing is created by sequencing. That is to say, a sequence of movements resulting in a powerful shot. This sequence begins with the lower body, continues into the upper torso and finally moves into the hands and the club face. This act of sequencing is the key component to creating lag. If you can improve your sequencing and create lag, you will improve your power. No matter if you are a junior, senior, mens or ladies golfer. 

The Sequence, beginning from the top of the backswing:

  1. low body/ hips 
  2. Upper torso/ arms
  3. hands / clubface 

 

Sounds easy, right? Get the low body going, then the upper body, and finally the hands and at last the club face.  Now try doing it. It’s not so easy, at least it never has been for me or my clients. Why? Because we tend to move our upper and lower body simultaneously.  So how do we fix it? We must first learn to move our hips and shoulders separately. 

How do we do that?

Practice exercises where the shoulders are stable and the hips are rotating.  Then  practice moves where the hips are stabilized and the shoulders turn. Once you’ve learned to turn your hips and shoulders independently,  it’s time to move on to sequencing drills. 

So, instead of jumping right into sequencing – here’s your first movement on your quest for prodigious power.  This move is called side step up with medicine ball. As Anna demonstrates, the movement mimics a slight lateral weight shift onto the lead leg combined with a pelvic rotation toward the target. At the same time, the shoulders are stabilized and held back by the medicine ball position. Practice this move on both legs and you’re half way there! Combine with last week’s single leg push pull, and you have got hips and shoulders that turn independently. 

Here’s the new video, as well as a repost of last week’s move. Next week: Dynamic Sequencing Drills! 

NEW

Side Step Up w Medicine Ball (internal hip rotation)
Use a step slightly under knee height.

 

LAST WEEK

1 Leg Push / Pull (torso rotation)

use with 2 cables or cable & DB