Saturday, February 7, 2009

Miyahara on the transition!

Tiger's Transition
October 1, 2008
Kelvin Miyahira
Based on 3 member reviewsHELP ME WITH RATINGS
If you were to take a look at the swings of the greatest players of all time, you would find a commonality amongst all of them……athleticism.
Just take a look on YouTube to find the great old swings of Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, young Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and now Tiger Woods. What you won’t see is cookie cutter looking swings or compact, “efficient” techniques. But what you will see is pure, unadulterated athleticism.
They were not “taught” by using videos, computers, biomechanical sensors or golf teachers in many cases. They just did what was most athletic to them and that’s what made them great. Contrast that with today’s amateur golfers. We’ve got better technologies, better equipment, better instruction but we’re still even close to matching the athleticism of the great, classic players.
So what’s the problem? I think we’re so inundated with “one plane this” or “two plane that” or “stack this” or “rotary that” that somewhere along the line we’ve lost what we instinctually and athletically have. When throwing rocks at the Tyrannosaurus Rex to avoid being his dinner, we learned to throw. We learned to hit with a big stick. If we had to think of what plane we were on in order to hit the predator correctly, surely we’d have become extinct long ago.
Said another way, I’ve never seen a baseball pitcher throw with an incorrect sequence. No one’s arm or shoulder fires before the hips. Yet we see this type of flaws in golfers all the time. Why is that? Poor instruction? Some golf theory has people trying to start the downswing with the shoulders instead of the legs and hips. Imagine that?
So how do we get back to athleticism?
By forgetting the details of a backswing and downswing and then start to work on the most important phase of the golf swing, the transition. It isn’t well understood by many and depending upon whom you talk to, you’ll get different answers. So rather than relying on that, let’s try to define it as we see it by a more detailed analysis.
The Transition
The transition is that critical area of the swing where the backswing ends and the downswing starts. The transition is comprised of two parts: the closed hip bump and the “fall in”. A lateral shift to the left should occur in each of these two phases. But since the lateral shift has already been discussed many times over, we’ll skip that part of the analysis and head straight for what’s truly more important and critical.
This month we will focus on the closed hip bump and next month we’ll explore the “fall in.”
Closed Hip Bump
Baseball pitchers and some very good hitters possess a move that I call the closed hip bump. For a brief moment, while the hips are laterally moving forward, there is actually a little bit of clockwise hip rotation. In other words, these athletes are still turning to complete the backswing while the lateral motion has started. Thus, there is movement in two directions at the same time.
Perry Husband, baseball hitting and pitching expert who appeared in the Fox Sports Network “Sport Science Show,” calls it “turning in.” Notice his hip position as he gets ready to stride forward. He doesn’t have a lot of hip turn at the start. Notice as he starts to pick up the left heel, his hips turn a little more. Then as the foot leaves the ground a little quicker hip turn occurs. It is now that he has ended his move right and will begin to move left on the next frame.
Look at the chair in the background on the side of his left hip for perspective. His hips might be turned say 30 degrees? He’s definitely started forward while still moving back We can see less of the chair behind his left hip yet his hips continue to turn in or clockwise. Hips are still moving forward as evidenced by the chair being completely hidden from view. But his hips have turned even more. Perhaps he’s turned his hips about 40-45 degrees now?
Said in another way, he’s turned his hips in or clockwise about 15 degrees while his hips laterally slid forward. This is the key to the kingdom of power. Contrast that with opening or rotating your hips open while striding forward. That would be the complete opposite. Surely you’ll run out of rotation by that point and miss the sweetspot in time where impact occurs and maximum power applied to the ball by having your body in the mechanically optimum position. Hitters that do this are sometimes so over-rotated that their chest and belt buckle would be facing the mound while contact is made.
Just put yourself in that position and see how powerful you’d be. He’s firmly planted on the left yet has all his hip rotation ready to be used in the swing. If you look at his body, it looks like Tiger’s transition. He would be a great golfer if he wanted to.
Adding Momentum and Ground Force Momentum and Vertical Ground Force
There are two more elements of the transition. Thus far we know there is a lateral motion and a rotational motion. But there are several related elements that are often overlooked, momentum and vertical ground force.
During transition, there should be a build up of momentum. As the weight is transferred over to the left foot there is vertical ground force being applied from the right foot. This force is similar to Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch. In order to develop the high levels of force to knock someone over he must apply a rapid ground force to create some velocity of his whole body. Then his punch really packs a wallop. This happens so fast that it eludes the human eye. Let’s take a look at this more closely.
The equation for momentum is mass times the velocity. But the question first is, “the mass of what?” Is it just the mass of his hand? Think about that one for a moment. Is it just his hand that hits you? Or as I said earlier, does he find a way to use his entire body to hit you? I’d say the latter and there are some great clips on YouTube to prove that his entire body was accelerating in order to add mass to apply the tremendous force needed to knock his opponent back. That’s why I think it is erroneous when some physicists believe that it is ONLY the mass of the golf clubhead that is important. “It is as if it could be swinging on a string” and not attached to a human body, or so they say. “It’s just the mass of the clubhead moving, its velocity and perfect contact that factors into the resultant ball speed.” Oh really? Sorry, I digressed.
The main point of this is that he’s using the ground force to build momentum of his body to add to his power. Tiger does this type of move as well to set up a more massive impact. No Ground Force? Bruce Lee’s punch or Tiger’s drive could not be powerful if they were standing on slippery ice with flat-soled shoes. It’s like ice hockey players who are trying to throw a punch. They slip, slide and spin and find it difficult to get the needed footing to create the ground force. Similarly, a golfer who spins out doesn’t create much ground force either.
This lack of ground force shows up at the start of the downswing. Pushing off the right side is a must. Lateral sliders might have the right ground force starting the downswing, but just before impact, they slide on by forgetting to post up and push into the ground with the left leg. Either way, the lack of ground force is a power loss. Without the ground force there can be no momentum built up and therefore less energy applied to the opponent or ball.
SSC Power and Timing
Largely ignored by golf instructors is the effect of stretch shorten cycles on a golf swing. Instructors simply see this event as a coil, stretch and uncoil of the trunk. Shoulder turn, X-factor and so on. Well, there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye. So let’s just take one slice of the SSC pie and unravel it.
For example, as the knees move forward and the body goes down slightly, the stretch shorten cycle of the powerful lower body becomes primed and ready. The quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and the hip flexors are stretched during this transition move. If done properly, they should automatically be ready to fire within the time frame of 120 milliseconds to gain maximally from the SSC contraction.
In other words, the correct transition will allow a second, more powerful firing of the legs and hips in addition to this first hip bump. This is a huge source of extra power that everyone is looking for.
Two Ways to Ruin it Whip Theory
Suppose you have good transition -- what could possibly ruin it? I know of two very popular swing theories that would just kill it. One is called the “Whip Theory” and the other is called the “Quiet Lower Body Myth.”
According to the Whip Theory, a golfer fires these segments JUST ONCE. So your hips fire once at the beginning of the downswing then transfers its energy and speed to the shoulders. Then the shoulders transfer its energy and speed to the arms, then to the hands and it eventually reaches the clubhead. He he he. It’s a nice, clean and simple theory for simple minds to understand. But is it really that simple? Is that what Tiger does? Or Jason Zuback? I think not.
Quiet Lower Body Myth
Related to Whip Theory is the “quiet lower body” myth. Imagine if Bruce Lee were to quiet his lower body and not use it for impact. He wouldn’t be able to knock people off their feet. Yet this is what we do in golf today. We quiet the lower body. We sit, we squat, we brace, we follow the upper body but we don’t use it for impact. Curious huh?
If we fire our hips at the start of the downswing then do nothing with it for the next 150 milliseconds, we may as well hit while sitting on a stool. It’s not a bad thing and there are some that can hit it far while sitting down. But seriously, I don’t think there’s anyone that can hit it farther while seated.
With this in mind, take a look at the fabulous transition of Tiger from back view.
Tiger Butt View Transition
When looking from front view, as we are accustomed, sometimes we miss what’s truly important. From the front view we can mistake left hip rotation for lateral motion since the hips are narrower looking when turned than when square. But from the back view we can clearly see these distinctive moves. We can tell if he’s rotating or moving lateral very easily.
Watch as Tiger’s lower body begins to move forward as his arms and club are still completing the backswing. Notice the amount of closed hip bump occurs and how many frames it is occurring in. It isn’t a lot but what is there is so critical. And check out all the creases in his sweater. After the last frame of transition, he can just flat out rip it.
Watch as this top ranked amateur in the US performs a different, less dynamic move than Tiger. He has almost nothing in the way of bi-directional movement and it is much less powerful looking. Not only that, he has a hip stall out right near impact that probably costs him 10-20 yards.
There are a lot of golfers out there with beautiful backswings and nice follow throughs. But somewhere in between the beginning and end of their swing, there’s a lot more work to be done and a lot more power to be gained. It’s like having beautiful new tires and rims on a car that has a sputtering engine. How good is that going to be? So we must work to develop the most critical part of the swing and then the rest of the swing will fall into place.
To do this, we must use our inborn athleticism and trust it. If not we will fall prey to the golf fad of the month that might be promoting athletic nonsense. Next month we’ll tackle what I refer to as the “fall in.” It is another very important element of the transition move.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

NEW Ball Flight Laws

This is posted on several internet websites, but seemingly not well known by the general public or for that matter, a lot of golf pros. It is essential when analysing ballflight from which swing faults can be more easily understood.

D-Plane and Ball Flight Laws

Simple ball flight laws. The face angle determines where the ball starts and the path determines where the ball curves. The numbers are slightly more technical, and both face and path play small roles in both starting line and curve, but the majority lies in what I told you.So, if you are starting it to the right and it is staying out right or even slicing, then your path isn't in to out enough.(Geometry)If your path is 10 degrees in to out, then your face can be as much as 9 degrees open (to the target line) and it will still be closed to path resulting in a draw.This is how people hit push draws, and basically the basis for S&T. Swing in to out a controlled amount with a face that is both open to the target line yet closed to the swing path. A good example is swinging 10 degrees in to out with a 5 degree open club face. Ball will start right due to the open face and curve left due to the open face being closed to the swing path (10-5=5)I had this discussion earlier today via PM and am going to copy and paste the rest of it. ....My instructor always uses a model and draws a picture showing a path that is 10 degrees in to out. Then shows the result of that path with 4 different club face positions.-15 degrees open results in a push fade.-Ball starts right because face is open and then fades because face is open to path-10 degrees open results in a straight push (my preferred miss)-Ball starts right because face is open and stays on that line because the face matches the path-5 Degrees open results in a push draw (money shot)- Ball starts right because face is open and then draws back to the target because face is CLOSED to the path. See how although the face is 5 degrees open to the TARGET line it is still closed to the PATH of the swing? Once you understand this you will REALLY understand the golf swing and what makes the ball do what.-0 degrees results in a straight overdraw-The ball starts on target and draws low and left of I think you know why.Hope that helps. Sounds to me like your face is either far too open to your decent path, or your face is a decent amount open but your path is not in to out enough.
This goes against the 'old ball flight laws' or as I call them, the 'wrong ball flight laws' which used to say the ball started out in the direction of the path of the swing and then was supposed to curve depending on the angle of the clubhead.So let's say I want to hit a hook where the ball starts to the right and then hooks to the middle of the fairway. I will just aim right of the target with the CLUBHEAD at the point where I want the ball to start. Then I will aim my body to the right and swing along the path of where my body is aimed. The more I want to hook the ball, the more right I will aim my body (which gives more of an inside-out path. If I want to hit a lesser hook or a slight draw, I'll aim less to the right.And the same works with fades and slices. Strangely, I can hook and draw it on demand, but I struggle a bit with hitting a fade on demand.Still, it goes much more beyond hitting draws and fades on demand. If you're making solid contact and hitting a push slice, now you know that the face is open (causing the ball to go to the right) you're cutting across the ball.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Brian Manzella

Brian Manzella is an outstanding teacher, a terrific communicator, wonderfully entertaining, and a top shelf human being. He is the complete antithesis of a method teacher, which would mean that he needs to know a heck of a lot in order to provide multiple solutions and patterns to solve the myriad of problems golfers manage to provide their instructors.

Read, learn, and enjoy...

New TrackMan Research and Brian Manzella
Whoa!For those who do not know me well, I am a absolute devourer of new information. If I had the time to read them, I'd subscribe to 100 magazines. I am the only person on earth that has gone to every PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, every TGM Summit, every MIT Better Golf Through Technology Summit, the first AMF Instructor Division Summit, and this upcoming January will be the 25th consecutive PGA Merchandise Show that I have attended.Whew!Only one problem—I started getting bored at seminars a long time ago. For every Aaron Zick—who is a real physicist, you get a hundred Joe DaPros using the word physics in their completely scientifically bogus presentation. For every take home worthwhile nugget of information, you get a couple of hundred boring speakers, horrible rules, and a legit pain in the derrière.But, thankfully, the last couple of years, a few times a year, I spend some time with TrackMan and a very high-end 3D system. Yesterday was one of those days. Trackman only day.Whoa!I hit so many balls my thumb got a blister for the first time in years. But I'd take 10 blisters, and even a real pain in my derrière for what I learned.On thing I have learned from speaking, and listening to speakers, is giving the audience your thesis and the take home nuggets first. You can fill in the details later.Here are your nuggets, free of charge, from the web's best golf instruction site:1. If you want to hit the ball straight, DO NOT aim straight on every shot, with every club in the bag. You have NO CHANCE.
You have to aim a decent amount left with short irons, and slightly less and less until you get to slightly closed with a Driver.If you try to do it out of a square stance your head will explode. 2. Plane Line is NOT relevant to the golf ball. True Path and True Clubface rule, trust your eyeballs (ball flight) more than any line on any screen.
When TrackMan's audible measurements were telling me my true face or true path, I could make feel and ball flight sense of it after the shot, and adjust during the shot.When it gave me plane line numbers, I was swimming in the variety of how down I hit on it related to the true path and face.3. You are going to hit down on wedges more than 8-irons, and 8-irons more than 6-irons. No matter what you do. Aim more left the shorter the club.
You can NOT hit a straight ball with a square stance and a straight plane line with a mid-iron. You are going to have to GUESS at how far left left to swing and say a little prayer.So, aim left enough, and control the face based on spin—or hit draws.4. You are going to have to hit down about 3.5° with a 6-iron. I would have thought not. You have no chance. The shots I hit trying to have as little as possible were comically high. I had a tough time hitting down less than 8° with a 60 degree wedge.
My guess is that because of the distance between the sweetspot and the hosel, but we have someone that is going to a Major Company this week and we will have the answer.5. Moving the ball position around too much, for the design or the club or another reason, will make you a PITIFUL wreck or a guesstimator.
The best players always said they didn't vary ball position, just aim. I agree. No matter how far I moved the ball up or back in my stance, It DID NOT VARY my downward strike necessary for good contact.It WILL destroy you path though. You can move the ball around a tiny bit, but I wouldn't until you get to longer clubs and the driver.6. Hit slightly up on a Driver. On my normal Driver shot, I aim left swing left and hit down. I had NO CHANCE being consistent that way. The Soft Draw pattern produced GREAT numbers for me, and here they are (an average of a few dozens very accurate baby draws:
99.7 MPH1.4° upward contact1.3° inside-out TRUE PATH2.7° inside-out Plane Line12.8 Delivered Loft2373 Spin236 Carry (with Range balls below sea level)255 with roll (would "normalize" to about 10+ yards)1.47 smash FactorI did produce a couple of DEAD STRAIGHT driver shots. Almost all zeros. Very Tough to do.7. There is device on the market that says to swing 11° inside-out. There is a group of teachers that say this can produce a straight-ish shot. An "Alternate Target Line" so-to-speak. Even a path that can be produced with a somewhat straight plane line.
No.Not close.Totally wrong.Junk.The shot I hit wit a 6-iron with an 11° inside-out TRUE PATH—which I need to have a 7.9° inside-out plane line to accomplish—was a 60 yard-of-curve rope hook.It will be usable on the golf course if you hit your tee shot on #1 at Pebble Beach nearly OB left and short, and have to hook it around that big-arse tree on the left.But, otherwise, JUNK.I could go on....But...The best thing to do is stay dialed in to this site.I may have to do a video and several Live HSows to get everyone up to speed.It was a great day in the history of Golf Instruction.Really.
__________________Use your Pivot to snap your Kinetic Chain, and to assist your arms, hands and club with creating the proper "D" Plane for the selected shot.Everything else is show biz

Introducing Geoff Mangum.

Geoff Mangum is by far, I believe, the most knowledgable, easily the best, and also the most insightful and forward thinking instructor of putting that I have seen. Take the time to read, watch, and learn from him.


Putter Design Features
November 6 2008, 9:30 AM
Dear Anders,
To give the short answers first (for those readers not interested in the details):
a) both "face balanced" and "toe hanging" putter designs cause the same problem of toe flaring open by itself (due to poor physics) off the target line AND out of the stroke plane -- I like a "heel-balanced" putter design;
b) typically, under 2 degrees is preferable to 3-4 degrees, on today's smooth, true, tight green surfaces.
c) about 360 grams and up to perhaps 400 to 425 grams is very good for most golfers;
d) aim lines need to be much simpler and more intelligently designed for the visuo-spatial brain processes that support spatial awareness and physical action in relation to targets and space on the greens -- the designs available today are not well informed on visual science.
Face-balanced putters and toe-hanging putters differ only in degree, not in kind. Both designs tend to make the toe flare open in the backstroke, out of the stroke plane, and not simply out of the target plane. The toe-hanging putter has a greater tendency to do this, inherent in the more severe physics of the mass imbalance, but a "face balanced" putter also does this to a lesser degree. This physics reality is CLEARLY not appreciated by golf instructors or players and even by almost all designers, so perhaps they will learn something of great commercial value by looking into these issues with a desire for clarity.
What I really "like" is a "reality balanced" putter, which ends up being a "heel-hanging" putter.
If you take a "toe balanced" putter and position it at the top of your follow-thru and then let it freely swing back to its own top of backstroke position, you will see it swings severely open at the top. That's due to the extra inertial of the extra mass in the toe end of the face: this extra heaviness won't stop as soon as the lighter heel end, so the toe crashes thru the wall of the train station and the toe goes farther than the heel, flaring open out of the target line AND the stroke plane. The "face balanced" putter does the same to a lesser extent. Why is this? Because the center of mass of the putter swinging on a tilt is not the same location as when the putter shaft is balanced on the finger level with the ground to "see what sort of balancing the putter head has". Finger balancing and the balancing during the swing are simply not the same, and what you want to know about is swinging or so-called "reality" balance -- what are the balance physics and inertial effects during a stroke, not when the putter shaft is poised on your finger.
But if you invert a "toe-balanced" putter (flip it heel-away, toe-near, underside of grip now on top) and suspend it at the top of the follow-thru and then let it swing to it's natural position at the top of the backstroke, you should see a putter that NOW swings squarely back and thru, sans unhelpful "toe-flow" causing the putter to open out of plane and off line. Interesting, huh?
To see the differences, visit these short movies at Positive Putters. Out of the nearly 600 current putter manufacturers, fewer than ten utilize these balancing principles in their designs (and none of the so-called "top" designers use anything other than the balance schemes that cause problems).
If you have a toe-flaring putter design, and don't like having to correct the putter face when it flares out of the target line AND out of the stroke plane (and that includes 99.9% of all golfers today), then you probably would like to know what is required to "prevent" the inherent physics from doing damage. All that is required is managing the extra mass, which is on the same order as about one fourth of a golf ball or less for the extra mass out of the proper balance towards the toe / away from the heel. Handling this requires a very modest increase in grip pressure, so there is a MINIMUM grip pressure to use every stroke, otherwise you are allowing the bad physics its head to mess with your stroke and cause unnecessary problems that need fixing. Golfers who think "feel is in the fingers and the less grip pressure the better" don't seem to know what is actually happening in the stroke, so again it's a case of the tail wagging the dog. These golfers are putting unmindfully in reaction to unhelpful physics, and this in effect trains these golfers non-consciously how to manipulate the putter to get some sort of success. That's fine, but skill without knowledge equals streakiness, with fall-offs from performance without the know-how for immediate self-correction. These fall-offs can last months or years. Ask Mike Weir (4 years) or KJ Choi (5 years) or Joe Durant (15 years), who all experienced great ghastly gaps between stellar putting rounds without the slightest clue how to fix the problem.
The guiding principle is: the least loft required by the usual surface speeds and conditions you play is best. On today's greens (vastly improved since 1980 over the past), that is around 0-2 degrees, and 3-4 degrees is too much loft. Players using putters with too much loft unmindfully tend to change their strokes to overcome the adverse effect, by delofting the putter at address and dragging the putter low and level thru the impact area and similar idiosyncratic dynamics. That is the tail (putter design) wagging the dog (golfer's stroke). Good luck to that dog becoming a masterful "wagger" of his tail.
The overall weight and its effect on the overall center of mass of the golfers arms, hands, and putter as a unit is more important than swingweight, and the overall weight should be matched to the golfer's body and strength and stroke timing primarily and also to the typical greens and conditions played. In general, heavier putter heads promote more inertial stability in the stroke, making it less likely that the fidgety golfer will adversely alter stroke path (the threshold force required to change the stroke path of a heavier putter is higher and so more forgiving of little fidgets.) But there is a range, and simply heavier and heavier is stupid. About 360-370 grams in the putter head is approximately "normal" for most guys, and 450 grams is just "too danged heavy", resulting in too-tight grips and poor muscle patterns and biomechanics activating the backstroke (snatching the putter head back off the ground, usually across the target line resulting in a loopy stroke path). Also, the center of mass of the system should probably be closer in to the body than typical with conventional putter designs, as this makes the golfer less "handsy" in the action and more consistent and accurate for line and touch.
Incidentally, contrary to current "old wives tales", a lighter putter is not better for a faster green. A lighter putter results in the need for more velocity and force at impact compared to the usual weight, and this in turn generates either a change in the golfer's timing or a LARGER stroke than usual and in any event a faster stroke. The implicit notion seems to be "lighter is more sensitive, and slicker greens need more sensitivity for distance control". That's a bit confused. The "usual" heavier putter does very very well on fast greens (think Augusta National) and the myth of requiring extra "sensitivity" or even "less blunder-bussing" to control distance is simply a fear-induced fantasy. It's similar to believing in the boogey-man lurking in the dark woods just outside your family's yard -- understandable but not particularly rational, since you've never really seen the boogey-man in person. So take a look!
If you putt with a light putter and a regular not-light putter at Augusta National, this is the effect for the same 20-foot downhill putt: A) the light putter has a larger-faster stroke that results in FORCE 10.102 whereas the usual not-light putter has a shorter-slower stroke that results in exactly the same FORCE 10.102; or B) the lighter putter is swung with a shorter-even-faster stroke to generate FORCE 10.102 while the usual not-light putter requires nothing out of the habitual ordinary. In any case, the 20-foot downhill putt requires FORCE 10.102 and none other for optimal results. In addition, the lighter putter is easier to fidget out of square due to less inertial stability than the usual putter.
Similarly, changing the weight on a putter head in an attempt to "regulate" (not attain) an accurate sense of touch for different surface speeds is just not the right approach. Some golfers (including very prominent golfers on Tour) fiddle around with the lead tape on their putters in an effort to "regulate" different greens to their stroke habits, instead of just accepting the differences. Typically, these golfers note exactly what SIZE backstroke makes a 10-foot putt for touch on a Stimp 11 green, and then when they migrate to a Stimp 9 or 10 green, they "fiddle around" with more tape until the SIZE of their 10-foot stroke on the slower green is EXACTLY the same as it was on the Stimp 11 green. This whole enterprise is AGAINST paying attention to the reality of the green and to the natural timing and movement pattern that takes its cue from the reality of the green speed. This CAN'T be good for the golfer over the long haul.
Aim lines are being designed out of vast clouds of ignorance about visual processing for spatial awareness and physical action, and practically all designs are frankly goofy. Optometrists and amateurs and veteran designers all get some small "notion" of what is "best" and then are off to the races trying to justify what they have come up with, but no one seems to have good common sense or any reasonable fund of neuroscience about how the brain uses vision for body action in space.
No putter manufacturer that I have ever heard of designs aim line(s) and then markets the proof that the design helps golfers aim better so that at the end of the process the laser shows that the golfer positioned the putter face exactly where intended some substantial distance off to the side, AND the golfer knew that before the laser was activated, AND this aim also works well with the stroke that the golfer habitually produces so that the putts ALSO go where the putter face aims, AND this aim line design is equally effective for a wide range of golfers. Such proof would probably strongly imply that the designer actually understood / knew how the aiming process works in the brain and what is important and what is not.
This great silence on the matter of scientific proof of the efficacy of manufacturer's efforts to design good aim lines is all the proof I need to conclude that none of them have the least idea what they are trying to get accomplished or how to do it. For example, most companies offer several choices about the aim lines in their various models: Does that make sense, if one is better for human visual processes than another? If instead the notion is that "whatever works for you is best" guides the design process, what do you suppose the designers are doing when they offer the world of 40 million individual worldwide golfers three or four patterns to pick from?
Frankly, golf equipment manufacturers, designers, optometrists (Nike hires one to help design putters), and dilletante wanna-be putter designers should probably either learn something about how the brain works in aiming, do a little testing, or "take up bowling." The one thing they won't stop is the marketing hype to accompany whatever they have managed to come up with for aim line(s). Without getting too deep into the science, suffice it to say that marks (not necessarily "lines") to help with aiming need to be vastly simpler and more intelligently designed for spatio-visual processing in conjunction with physical action than heretofore.
David Edel ( stands alone among putter designers today in actually INVESTIGATING this issue, along with help from the empirical testing and experiments ("studies") carried out by David Orr at Campbell University's Professional Golf Management program ( (Incidentally, his data "sample sizes" shame those of other golf "scientists" as well as probably all sports science studies for putting in academia.)

David Edel putter fitting session

David Orr presenting findings of his studies at MIT golf technology conference
According to my understanding, Edel and Orr have been learning that the aim line in isolation is not what determines accuracy of aiming or lack thereof, and that the total features of the putter design all make separate contributions, such as the shape of the putter head, the appearance of the shaft as angled into the head, the hosel design, the prominence of features in the interior appearance of the putter head, and many other contributing factors. And this is BEFORE taking stock of the golfer's personal biases for vision and stroke action, which also affect the aiming process. The general thrust of the investigation is to find understanding for practical application of WHY one putter design pattern would work better than another with a specific golfer's set of biases, resulting in a science-driven, principled, knowing way to "fit" putter designs to golfers, including optimizing the aiming process by an integrated approach to the golfer AND the tool.
This effort parallels and complements my own researches into what actually happens in the body, vision, and brain when a golfer looks at a putter and aims it. Hopefully, our parallel efforts are converging and mutually supporting and informing, as they appear to be so far. The final word, I suggest, is that aiming putters is at the beginning of its first-ever serious learning curve.
Numerous other design features (your "etc.") promise the world and deliver anthills, as usual. Using real "investigative" science, not the dumbed-down "ranking / sorting" science usual in sports science academia or the "to measure is to know" delusional science of most golf technologies, engineers and club designers Werner and Grieg tested isolated design features of putters against a simple criterion: does the feature help the golfer have fewer strokes per round, and if so, what is the magnitude of the effect? (See their book for detailed data and testing protocols: How Golf Clubs Really Work and How to Optimize Their Designs).
Their studies concluded that, yes, all design features make a difference, but the magnitude is so miniscule compared to the golfer"s basic variability for reading, aiming, stroking, and controlling distance, that the effective helpfulness of the design features were all "swamped" by the larger variability golfers have in their skill (this includes pros). The design effect versus the need to control variability is typically on the order of 1 to 10 or 1 to 20, with the design feature helping only 10% of the need while the golfer is coming and going another 4 to 10 times that much left or right, long or short, etc. For example, a so-called "better" MOI design does not necessarily help a bad golfer get better, and a bad golfer may well do better using a "poorer" MOI design for any number of reasons. The helpfulness of the "better" MOI design might reduce distance control errors by perhaps 4 inches on a ten or twenty foot putt but the golfer cannot consistently benefit from this because he is off distance by plus or minus 4 FEET (48 inches) over 90 percent of the time. This same "swamping" of design benefit runs thru all the designs about equally. None of them matter enough to get excited about, in comparison to what the golfer can accomplish for improvement simply honing his skills at reading, aiming, stroking, and controlling distance. There are no magic bullets, so golfers need to have a good cry, grow up, and learn how to putt without constantly chasing design fads.
Frank Thomas, regarded by quite a few as a scientist -- he's fond of declaiming "To measure is to know", said in a radio interview with respect to his personal offering of a putter design (which, incidentally, has nothing interesting for aiming): "I wracked my brain for a long time trying to come up with something innovative for my Frankly Frog putter design, and all I could come up with was the color green." (Edwin Watts Better Golf Podcast with co-guest Scotty Cameron and host interviewer Fred Greene). This is quite at odds with his public marketing that states his putter is the most scientifically advanced putter on the market.
So the message is: Marketing statements are not science, and may not even be truthful, and may even be deliberate misstatements of the true belief. Golfers should take this state of affairs as the "school for skepticism" that it is.
Geoff Mangum Putting Coach and Theorist

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A New, Powerful Swing!

Tiger and Sadlowski: Emergence of a New, More Powerful Swing
December 1, 2008
Kelvin Miyahira
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The last two articles dealt with the tremendously important and difficult to describe transition of the golf swing. The transition is so important because it puts great athletes in position to truly deliver a knockout blow. Now that we've got through that, we'll tackle the most dynamic and powerful move for Tiger or Jamie Sadlowski, the acceleration phase into the ball. If that's not enough to excite you, I'll document the emergence of a new pattern of a golf swing called the Multiple Firing Theory or MFT.Biomechanical Dubiety

Before I get to this, let me discuss some very power-limiting biomechanical theories that have been accepted as the gospel by the golfing community. While there were great champions following this biomechanical model, this is a power-challenged swing that is definitely going to be overtaken (or already has been) by the Tigers and Sadlowski's of the golfing world. But beyond that, for Average Joe's out there, these ideas/models are also potentially the cause of many common errors in the golf swing, most notably, the casting, flipping, and coming over the top can sometimes be traced back to these ideas. Thus for the amateurs, there's going to be a little trickle down benefit from the research of the Great One (or Two).Whip 'Um Theory (WUT)

It seems the biomechanical world has latched onto the questionable WUT concept (in my humble opinion) that of all places came from the world of javelin throwing. Interestingly enough, how does throwing a javelin compare to a golf swing? Similar? Throwing... swinging. Hmmm, maybe it's just me?Well, you can decide. So anyway, what came out of this study was a concept of "Segment Interaction Principle." This basically means that larger, more proximal segments develop initial speed and momentum and transfer their energy, speed and momentum to the smaller, distal segments (the main problem is that this principle applies to rotational movements only while we're looking at translational movements as well). It has been adopted as a reference and paradigm base to the theories of the kinetic chain and kinematic chain (You say tomayto, I say tomawto).

What does this all mean to the golf swing you ask? A lot. So here goes. You take a backswing, start the downswing with your hips, then transfer its energy to the shoulders, then it transfers to the arms, to the wrists, to the hands and eventually it goes out to the club. Sounds great doesn't it?But here's the problem.

When looking at ideal PGA tour graphs that have been posted on websites, the hips have a peak halfway down on the downswing. Then, what exactly do they do for the rest of the downswing? You could ask the same question of the shoulders. If they peak 2/3rds of the way down on the downswing, what do they do the rest of the way? Do they just coast and follow the hands as they hit the ball?

Hmmmmm.There are great players currently using this idea as well as many past champions that use this whip theory. The list would include Tom Lehman, Steve Elkington, Nick Faldo, Byron Nelson, Al Geiberger, Reteif Goosen, Tom Purtzer and more. Many of these players' swings would be described at beautiful, flowing but maybe a tad underpowered. All you need to do is take a look at the post-impact positions of the body and you can sort of tell that they're coasting, bracing, posting and decelerating their hips and shoulders. Remember in the WUT swing, the arms are the only segment at impact. In fact, if you want the clubhead to have maximum speed at impact the arms should decelerate just prior to impact... if you believe in WUT swing.Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But there's a new Sheriff in town and his name isn't Tiger. It's Jamie Sadlowski, King of the World Long Drive Championships. He's doing things that would make Tiger look like a handgun to Jamie's bazooka. So what's different? While Tiger is probably the most prominent to use this type of very athletic swing, he most certainly is not the first. Ben Hogan had a bit of this. Bobby Jones had some of this. Sam Snead did this. Young Jack Nicklaus did this. Current players using MFT are Anthony Kim, JB Holmes, Bubba Watson, Camilo Villegas, and more. The current wave of young players certainly saw Tiger as they were growing up and probably emulated some of what he does whether intentional or not. And the key is they haven't been trained OUT of doing this. Whip 'Um Theory Vs. Multiple Firing TheoryThe simplified whip 'um theory (WUT) sounds so great. I'm sure many of you have bought into it but don't realize how it's hurting you.

This theory is prevalent in baseball pitching but the bad consequences are much more severe. Follow the single whip theory and you'll injure your arm. For golfers, the consequences are less severe. But you will suffer from lack of power and speed. And should you have the genetics to develop speed, you will undoubtedly suffer from lack of control. If this sounds like you and you want to get off the roller coaster ride, the Multiple Firing Theory (MFT) might be the answer. You'll get more distance and greater accuracy. Yeah, but everyone promises that. Well read on.

MFT So here's the theory.

I believe the human body is capable of multiple firings within the .20 - .25 second time frame of the downswing. And we're talking everyone, not just Tiger or Jamie. The muscles of your body can fire like a machine gun if you ask it to. There's a Japanese girl on YouTube that jumps rope to the tune of 151 times in 30 seconds! If she can do that, surely we could burst twice in .25 seconds of the downswing. Human Hip Limitations

The reason we must fire twice on the downswing is because the human body is limited in range of motion in the hips. Since we are standing on the ground our feet and legs become anchors. Instead of spinning like a skater doing a triple toe loop, golfers remain planted to the ground (or are we?).Add in the fact that the axis of hip rotation changes from the right to the left (okay, well some S &Ters just stay left), there are some inherent roadblocks to doing a singular hip fire that will take your body the full range from backswing to follow through. The full range of hip rotation might cover about 135 degrees or more.

This means going from 45 degrees turned away from the target on the backswing to facing your navel at the target on the follow through. This is a huge range of motion, is it likely that you can go that far on one hip burst?Breaking it downIf you've been following my last two articles dealing with the transition, you will be about halfway down on the downswing at the end of transition. Tiger's left arm is about horizontal or at the 9 o'clock position at this point. Jamie, due to his longer backswing, is at about 11 o'clock and ready to fire. This is the appropriate time for one of those caveats used all the time on those stuntman shows. "This is a professional stunt driver. Don't try this at home."

If you've tried to do a closed hip slide and have transferred your hips to the left side, you SHOULD feel stuck at this point. What's happening is a load is being placed on your left leg. A stretch shorten cycle has been ignited but it will take a HUGE amount of energy expended on your part to complete the swing.Movements of Jamie or TigerLateral motion

The end of transition completes the lateral motion for the truly long hitters. Those that are still sliding or moving laterally from this point till impact are losing speed potential. A great analogy would be like having a door trying to slam shut while the hinge and doorjamb is moving away.

Kind of hard to do, yet many golfers do this. *Actually Jamie uses a little different type of left side loading. It is more similar to a hockey slapshot. But we'll leave that discussion for a later time.Vertical and Rotational motion

The other two moves are vertical jump and rotational twist. So I call it a jump/twist move. The analogy would be like an ice skater doing the preparation for a triple jump. They would lower their body, counter-rotate slightly, then jump and twist, except we won't leave the ground.

In order to get the most from your body, these two moves are essential.move your entire weight vertically up and rotate in order to complete the MFT swing. The second firing needs to be really explosive and it needs to drive you through the last 90 degrees of hip rotation till the end of the swing.

In a biomechanical graph, this means that Tiger has two velocity peaks for his hips and shoulders. His second hip velocity peak occurs just prior to impact and this "slingshots" his shoulders (2nd firing) into the ball with maximum force. Ben Hogan did this as well. But Jamie's swing is even more violent and powerful. His hips and shoulders reach their 2nd velocity peaks right at impact. All of this adds to his speed AND effective mass at impact. The added mass of his body firing at high speed right at impact will add to his smash factor and higher ball speeds at impact. This is sledgehammering at its finest.

Hand and Arms Role

The MFT swing is really quite complicated in its view of the arms. One problem with studying the arms is that there are inherent trunk movements that are influencing the arm movements therefore it cannot be separated out fully (we have done some study on this subject but the results are too complicated).

In other words, if one can rotate the trunk fast, it definitely adds to the speed of the arms, but that doesn't mean that the arms are doing the majority of the work. Your whole body (or maybe Jamie's and Tiger's) is putting all its energy into the shot and this adds to the stability of the arm and added effective mass to the shot. The end result is that the ball goes farther.

What, what, what, WUT?

Contrast that to the WUT swing. If you're transferring energy from your hips to your shoulders (via deceleration), then transferring from your shoulders to arms (via deceleration), then arms to wrists and hands (via deceleration), then what are you hitting with? Your hands at impact?

Correct! And the "experts" would have you believe that the faster you decelerate your larger segments, the speed and momentum will be transferred at a more optimum rate. So braking harder makes you go faster?

As Mr. Spock on Star Trek would say, "illogical." I say, what WUT?

Secret Root Cause of Casting and Flipping

If your hips and shoulders slow down too early in the downswing (because no one told it to fire again), then naturally conservation of angular momentum takes over and all speed and energy goes to the hands. Voila! We are casting! At the very least, without one's shoulders firing at high speeds at impact, we get a hand flip. It just can't be helped. We flip because we don't fire our hips and shoulders again. And we don't fire our hips and shoulders again because we're not supposed to. So you see it's a vicious cycle that you can't get out of... until you change your paradigm. Yes, you need to know how to use your hands but if you don't use your body properly, nothing outside of hitting hundreds of thousands of balls with major compensations will make you better. And no one has time for that unless you want to quit your day job.

Over the Top Move

Inadvertently, the WUT swing can cause people to get anxious and hit from the top. Logically, if your hips are going to fire just once, you better do it fast, hard, and right from the start of the downswing. Did I just describe how people come over the top?

Contrast that to the MFT swing that allows time for "positioning" of the body to really fire hard at impact. This positioning or getting into position can and should be done at a slower tempo than the 2nd half of the downswing. Since we're moving the entire body weight during transition, this cannot happen too fast or an incorrect spinning move will occur thereby ruining chances for a good 2nd firing.

How many times have we heard get it in the slot? Or the magic move? This will be much easier to do knowing that you have a 2nd fire on the way to really pound it when it counts. Brings to mind the concept of hit impulse. Perhaps the biggest reason we have a hit impulse is because we haven't figured out that we're supposed to fire twice like a cannon going off two times in succession. Boom, BOOM!

WUT Code Words to Avoid like the PlagueCertain words or phrases, when uttered by golf teachers, give you a clue as to which type of swing theory they believe in. Note, these rules are applicable when describing the downswing. So if you want to learn to double fire your hips on the downswing, avoid these moves or UNmoves.

Quiet lower body – this means they don't believe in firing your hips again.

Brace or posting – these words are passive, meaning that you don't really fire the hips or legs again. Just put them legs there and wonderful results will take place. Not!

Re-hinging the wrists – this can happen much sooner if your body is not moving. Beware; this describes a flip release and an arm swing.

Keep your spine angle – there are two ways to keep your spine angle. One is to leave your butt out and head down in a motionless state at impact. The other is to fire your hips and clear them out as both Tiger and Jamie do.

Stay down, don't lift your head, etc. – similarly to keeping your spine angle, staying down is strictly for amateurs.

Don't jump – well, Jim McLean wrote his findings in Golf Digest when he found that on average the tour pros had an average hip rise at impact of 4.53" whereas amateurs rose up only 0.50" on average. It's more "do as I say, not as I do" type of instruction.

Effortless – this one is like a hanging curveball.

If you want a faster car do you get a hybrid Prius, which is gas efficient but only 110 horsepower? Or do you get a gas guzzling Bugatti that has an 8 Liter, 16 cylinder, quad turbo, 1001 horsepower engine that can reach 250 miles per hour. Argggggggggh arggggh. (Tim the toolman Taylorspeak). You don't get something for nothing. If you want maximum speed, it takes horsepower and max effort. The WUT swing might be effortless, but will have far less power.

There's so much more to cover with this new MFT swing. There is more to come. But the writing is on the wall. Courses are getting longer. More Tiger's are on the way. And the game is changing for the better. Don't get stuck in a time warp with the WUT swing of the 70's. Be hip, be powerful and play this game like an athlete rather than a ballet dancer.


Instead of a website, I thought that I would start with a blog about my experiences with golf, who has influenced me and why, some good articles that I believe are at the forefront of golf instruction, and some video, pictures, and hopefully soon some 3-D material that will explode some of the myths in golf instruction.