March 2011 Newsletter:  Two Keys to hitting the ball Solid and Straight:

Key One:  Deliver a square club head on the correct Impact Plane.
Key Two:  Oil your swing with good Tempo, Timing, Rhythm, and Balance.

Let's start with Key One.....The Impact Plane.
Imagine a  line that goes up the shaft of your club.  It will probably be at an angle of around 45 degrees.  
This angle varies between clubs and the build of the golfer.
Imagine that this line is a plane of glass and your body is sitting in a hole in the glass.  As you make your
downswing you have to get back on this plane to hit the ball square, straight and long.
This picture of Fred Couples shows how the
shaft plane looks at address.  Getting back
down and through on the correct path is one
of the hardest things to learn in golf.
If you do not get back down on the impact
plane you will hit the ball with a glancing blow
and spin the ball off line.  Most golfers tend to
come down too steep. This produces a
chopping "out to in" path and a slice or pull will
result.  Very few golfers tend to come down
too shallow from "inside to out" and hook or
push the ball.  Coming down too shallow is the
better players error.  All golfers should strive
for a correct impact plane.
Study the frames of Fred's downswing above.   In frame three, as the right forearm gets parallel to the
ground the shaft is pointing directly at the ball.   Go back to Fred at address and compare the shaft angle
to the angle at impact.  Fred has returned the club on a perfect Impact Plane.  

Now study the Student below and look closely at the third frame.  The shaft of the club is pointing almost
straight down at the ground.  His club is above the correct impact plane and coming down too steep.  His
club face will be traveling through the impact area from "outside to in" and he will put a glancing left to right
side spin on the ball.  This is a distance killer.
TIP:  The beginning of the downswing is crucial.  In Fred Couples' swing, he starts the
downswing from the ground up.  His hips shift toward the target and the arms drop down.  
Notice how far Fred has turned his hips toward the target at impact.  In our Student, the right
shoulder has started the downswing and the club moves out toward the ball too soon. Observe
that the student has hardly moved his hips at all at the start of the downswing.   This
downswing is way too steep and out of plane.
TIP:  
I am using a piece of wood dowel here
to illustrate the correct position to be in
at the beginning of the impact zone.
You can also make your own device by
duc
t taping two flashlights together
back to back.  You will be able to see if
you are on plane by observing where
the light is pointing in this position of
the downswing.
I will give you a permission slip if
someone in your family thinks you are
nuts for doing this to two perfectly
good flashlights.
Fred Couples displaying remarkable TTRP below.
He has a very slow transition between the top of his back swing and the beginning of his downswing.  He almost
pauses for a split second at the top.  All great players that have long slow back swings have a slight pause
(sometimes only a split second) as they complete the back swing and start the downswing.   The reason for this is
that they want to start the downswing from the ground up so that the arms do not get out of sync.  Remember,
you can't hit the ball with your back swing but you can put yourself in a position that makes it impossible to swing
down correctly.
Key to hitting it Straight and Solid Number Two:   Tempo, Timing, Rhythm, and Balance.   T.T.R.B.

Good Tempo means that your downswing is gradually accelerating through impact.  The back swing will definitely be
slower than the downswing.  Very Important...give yourself plenty of time to complete your shoulder turn on the back
swing.

Great Timing means that the arms are in sync with the body turn.  

Rhythm is the natural pace of your swing.  All of your swings from the wedge to the driver should have the same
rhythm.   I love to see a consistent rhythm in my students.  Whether it is fast or slow, it has to be consistent.

Great balance is essential.  You should be able to finish your swing and hold your finish position for a count of two.

T.T.R.B is the Oil that runs every great swing engine.
TIP:
Checking your Oil:
The best way to determine if you are swinging with Tempo, Timing, Rhythm and Balance is to
make some swings with your feet together...(Toes touching).   Try to hit a few irons and
fairway woods off a tee,  strive for about 50% of your power and keep your balance.
This exercise really works to get your arms timed with your body turn and keeps you from
making too fast a back swing.   Just taking some practice swings with your feet together is a
great way to warm up.   

Observe the way some Touring Pros take continuous practice swings...not stopping...and
swinging back and forth in slow motion prior to hitting their shot.  They are making sure they
still have oil in the engine.
Try this yourself....take some continuous swings, back and through, and feel your hips start
the downswing.
It is a great exercise.  I do it with a weighted club at home every morning.

Have a great Month.  Hope you all can have some fun on the course.