The Flippopotamus

This is part one of a seven part series documenting my Winter lessons as a bogey golfer trying to improve.  You can read the Intro here: Winter Lessons Series

Lesson Date: Feb 8, 2014

Review

Rob started out by having me warm up while watching me on video and asking me questions like:

  • What is your usual miss?
    • It’s wild.  Left pulls and right pushes/slices.  He says it’s more a hook than a pull after I started missing some left.
  • Do you hit it fat?
    • No, generally if I miss, it’s a thin shot.  I’ve gotten so good at it that I have no fear fairway bunkers.  Greenside bunkers can get ugly.
  • How’s your distance?
    • Messy.  Can easily be one club differences depending on the day.  A 150y 8i one day but 140y 8i on others.

I also mentioned I feel like my ball flight is pretty high and I have lots of difficulty playing in the wind.

Diagnosis

Much to my amusement, Rob says you have a pretty good swing.  Seems to be on-plane and should have no problem shooting in the 80s.  We had a little joke at my expense about my short game but I was thinking “Yes!  I’m doing good before we even started.”

I don’t have the video from the lesson but he showed me a picture of myself at impact.  At impact, my hands are kind of trailing my body, and there is a definite cupping/flipping that occurs right at impact.  I asked about how to get my hands to not trail so much and he says there’s too much slide and not enough rotation (we’ll get into that in the next session.)

Here’s a snapshot from a couple season ago which looks pretty close to my lesson in February.

Ben Craneshaw versus Me

Ben Craneshaw versus Me

Rob explains that this all makes sense:

1. High ball flight:  Flip

2. Inconsistent distances: Flip depending on the timing and how much added loft occurs at impact

3. Lefts and Rights?  Again, it’s flip related.  It’s holding off or a try to save it last second with the above move.

Suggested Drills

We didn’t get into too much work during the first lesson but he asked me to hit a punch shot under an imaginary tree for him.  My version of punch shot is very much a 9 – 3 type of shot where I put the ball further back in my stance and end the follow through of the shot maybe chest high.  It’s a very punchy, held off release type of move.  Then he showed me video again and says your punch shot is what a regular shot should feel like.  In my head, I’m thinking “okay, if that’s a regular shot, then what the heck should a real punch shot feel like?”

I guess the hold off was starting to push balls out to the right and he gave me the option to “release the club” or strengthen my grip.  As you must know, grip changes are a dangerous thing but releasing through a punch shot felt alien to me.  I felt like I was going to smother the ball and drive it straight into the ground like this.  I took a mental note that I’d look into how the release is supposed to feel like when I get a chance.

For the rest of the session, he tried having me try hitting punch shots, but with a full backswing.  It’s really alot harder than it sounds.  I have seen these punch shot type lessons many times before on youtube so I have an idea on what to work on on my own.

Session Recap

To be honest, I was surprisingly nervous going into this first session.  I would say I almost felt the same nerves as when I was a new beginner golfer being intimidated by all the rules and etiquettes/expectations of other players and hoping not to embarrass myself.

What I thought it might happen:

  • I was thinking I’d get all my flaws pointed out in an ugly mess.  Unfixable habits that I’ve never known about would be highlighted and it’ll hover there and mess with my confidence.
  • I was concerned that the instructor might find the swing so un-usable that he’d want to reconstruct it from scratch.
  • I was secretly hoping that there’d be a magic move or bullet.  Once he points it out, I’d be well on my way to low handicap golf!  Ah, wishing thinking indeed.

In reality:

  • Rob asked me lots of questions and made me quantify how I want to improve besides dropping my scores.  (A one way miss to the right)
  • He explained things carefully and fit lots of pieces of the puzzle together
  • He gave me a couple options and thoughts on how to achieve one thing
  • I ended the session filled with enough knowledge to go looking for more information online

I’ve finished my 7 out of 8 sessions and actually played my first full round of the season yesterday.  Yikes, let’s just say I’m still a work in progress.  But having said that, I can say the biggest benefit so far is that I have an idea of where to go and what to focus on during practice as oppose to random guessing on the range.  During one of the sessions, Rob said it best: “I’m going to show you how it’s supposed to work so you have something concrete to work on and know why it should be this way.”

More Research

After every lesson, I go nuts online looking for more related information.  Here’s a collection:

1.  The Hand Release is a Roll, not a flip

By instinct, most of us amateurs are trying to help the ball into the air to some extent.  I think another reason is because we are trying to add speed to the ball at impact and think that flip-slapping at the ball makes logical/physical sense.  However, watch pro golfers and it’s obvious no one flips or casts their clubs.  What I’m still trying to figure out is how to release the club in a rolling over fashion as opposed to the instinct of right hand slapping through the ball:

 

2. Focus on forearm instead of the hands from Michael Breed

Alot of videos and information I’ve found focus only on the hands and what the hands need to do.  I thought I’d hit an eureka! moment when I stumbled on this gem from Michael Breed where he explains it from the elbow and forearm instead. For some reason, I found it much easier to think about rolling the left inside forearm so the palm faces up rather than focusing on the hands to do the same motion.  I just watched it again and think I’ll try the rotate the tee in your hand down towards the target too and see how that feels.

 

3. Mark Crossfield

One of my favorite internet pros is Mark Crossfield and he just posted a video on Dynamic Loft that I think I’ll try.  He rotates the clubface 20 degree close just to get the feeling of having the handle ahead which is basically how it felt when I played with a very strong grip last year:


Training gadgets

I’m a sucker for training aids but I tend to really only buy the ones that makes a lot of logical sense to me.  Here are a couple I’ve acquired over the years and am thinking of breaking back out once my ball striking gets more consistent.

The Pure Ball Striker (PBS) from Jeff Evans

Pure Ball Striker

Everything about this inexpensive device makes sense, you swing with it beneath your trigger finger and you need to apply an accelerating force against the PBS to feel the lag you’re creating.  You’re supposed to keep accelerating to a point well past impact to your full release.  It just never worked for me.  It’s more because I was too new of a golf to have any idea of when and where pressure should be applied and how.  I ended up developing a nasty case of the hosel rockets with it and quickly put it away.  I think at that point of my golfing development, I was really rolling the clubface open and sucking the clubhead well inside on the takeaway so this uneducated attempt to “create lag” just had me dragging the hosel into the ball before the face can ever get there?  I’m a little bit afraid to try using it again right now.

I never could really create the “consistent pressure” all the way to release on the device back then so ironically, it actually did its job exactly as advertised- showing me that I’m casting early and throwing away any stored pressure before impact.  Maybe if I can start hitting solid irons and working on the punch shot and the proper wrist release a little longer first, I can come back and try again.

You can find out more about the Pure Ball Striker here: http://www.pureballstriker.com/

By the way, dealing with Jeff Evans was really easy, he seems like a great guy who’s helping alot of satisfied golfers- check out the thread on GolfWRX:

http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/193646-pure-ball-striker-training-aid/

The Tour Striker

You’ve probably seen the commercial about “forward shaft lean” on Golf Channel.  I picked one up at a discount thinking “oh, I know I cast so this is going to be so hard to hit”.  I was actually very excited at the notion of topping a ton of balls and then hopefully my body would react in a way to make this work.  In reality, I was able to hit balls into the air almost like my normal 8 iron right from the start.  I was somewhat surprised.  Of the 10 or 15 shots I’ve taken with it, I haven’t seen one squirt out from a topped shot but I haven’t really felt a truly compressed ball either.  I’m thinking somehow my swing is “good” enough to both flip and cheat the device at the same time?

So somehow, I can hit the ball high enough on the face- but as you can see, it’s super inconsistent!  It’s all over- which part of the face can I not hit??

Tour Striker Club Face

Maybe others will have better luck with this.  I will have to try it again this summer at a range and see if maybe I can figure out how I can hit properly.

Here is the website for Tour Striker: http://www.tourstriker.com/

Martin also is active helping out lots of golfers on GolfWRX here: http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/341232-tour-striker/

Also, I find Martin Chuck’s youtube channel to be really educational.  He has lots of good thoughts about solid ball striking in general (even without the tour striker device):

https://www.youtube.com/user/cmartingolf

Here is Martin Chuck’s instructions that came with the Tour Striker club and you’ll see elements of the PBS with his grape example at 8:26 into the video.  There’s lots of great info so it’s a worthwhile watch:

Anti-Flipping Plan of Attack

For now, my battle with my ongoing flip continues.  I do feel that I am not flipping as much but the video evidence is very damning.  Let’s try to work this thing out this summer:

  1. Work on getting used to the proper wrist  motion every day.  Not a full swing, but working through the motion to ingrain this rolling action.
  2. On the range, try to hit a bucket of 2 or 3 punch shots to every one full shot.  I need to work on this anyway because it’s so difficult to play in the wind right now.
    • Do this with Michael Breed’s drill in mind
    • Try this with a PBS every so often
    • Try this with the Tour Striker as well
  3. Take some video at the end of the season and compared to the above to see we’re actually improving our not?

How did you get rid of your cast/flip?  Was there a light-bulb moment in your golfing career or is it just dedication and hard work much like the rest of this game that we love?

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One thought on “The Flippopotamus

  1. Pingback: Winter Lessons Series | The Crunchy Golfer

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