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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Teresa Zamboni's One-Legged Chipping Setup (Video)

I'm posting LPGA Instructor Teresa Zamboni's video for one reason -- it's yet another example of yesterday's flamingo drills, except this one is adapted for chipping. If you compare what she's teaching with Chris Ryan's full swing drills from yesterday, I think you'll learn that some of the basic principles of golf apply to almost every aspect of the game.


Friday, March 5, 2021

Using Flamingo Drills to Learn Feel (Video)

You may remember a couple of posts I did early in January -- the first covered what John Jacobs called "the measurement of a good swing" while the second was a Mike Malaska drill designed to teach you the feel of a square clubface. Today we're going to add some drills from Chris Ryan to teach you the feel of a draw and a fade.

He calls these drills 'flamingo' or 'one-legged' drills, and they are designed to teach you how weight distribution, weight shift and balance during your swing create predictable swing paths for draws and fades. Watch the video and then we'll talk...


I'll talk about the drills themselves in a moment, but let's start with some observations.

  • First off, I want you to notice that he is using the same ball position for both drills BUT by changing his weight distribution at address he effectively moves the ball forward or backward in the swing.
  • Second, he tries to maintain his weight distribution and balance at address throughout his backswing and down through impact. By that I mean that his body doesn't move forward or backward much at all during his swing.
  • And third, although the drills change his stance, at the end of the video he uses the feel he develops with them to hit predictable fades and draws, both from a normal square stance.

Now let's look at the drills and see how he is able to do this.

The flamingo drill is simple, and I bet you've seen it before. Simply put, your weight is centered over one foot while the other is pulled back from your regular square stance. The foot you pull back is used only for stability -- to help you keep your balance -- and only the toe is touching the ground. And you make waist-high swings during practice.

  • If you use the flamingo drill to learn how to feel a fade, your weight is centered over your trailing foot and you balance on the toe of your lead foot. This effectively moves the ball position slightly forward in your stance and causes your body to rotate over your trailing leg.
  • If you use the flamingo drill to learn how to feel a draw, your weight is centered over your lead foot and you balance on the toe of your trailing foot. This effectively moves the ball position slightly backward in your stance and causes your body to rotate over your lead leg.

Simple enough, correct? Let's consider how these changes affect your swing.

  • With your weight over your trailing leg (for the fade), your backswing is restricted slightly and, with your lead foot pulled back, your hips are open to the target so it's easier for you to get your belly button to face the target as you swing through. As a result, you cut across the ball (an out-to-in swing) and tend to leave the clubface open at impact. That gives you a fade.
  • With your weight over your lead leg (for the draw), your backswing is not restricted at all and, with your trailing foot pulled back, your hips are closed to the target so it's harder for you to get your belly button to face the target as you swing through. As a result, you come at the ball more from the inside (an in-to-out swing) and tend to close the clubface at impact. That gives you a draw.

Note that both of these shots are created by maintaining your balance over one leg throughout your swing AND being aware of the position of your clubface at impact. (That's what the one-handed Malaska drill teaches you to feel.) Flamingo drills help you learn to control the path of the club by feeling how your body moves during your swing.

Most of you struggle with shot shapes because you are used to driving your legs too hard during your swing. These drills teach you to use your arms and legs together in a more balanced way, making it easier to create clubhead speed while staying in balance.

Once you develop some consistency with these drills, you can learn to make shoulder-height swings and actually use these drills during a round of golf to hit draws and fades when you need them. That makes these drills doubly useful.

But if you watch Ryan at the end of this video you'll see that he is using the feels that he learned from these drills to actually hit fades from a square stance, without any kind of dramatic body contortions. He is using his learned ability to control his weight distribution and body rotation to control the path of his swing. He doesn't unintentionally slide backward or forward during his swing, which would change both the path and ball position he had at address and cause unexpected shot shapes.

These drills will probably seem difficult at first, especially if you have trouble keeping your balance when you swing. But the payoff for doing them will be amazing.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Mike Malaska on Making Room for Your Swing (Video)

This short video from Mike Malaska explains how Jack Nicklaus 'made room for his hands' in his swing, and compares it to how modern swings differ.


Although he doesn't call it by name, Malaska does mention how maintaining connection during your swing can prevent you from creating room to swing and, consequently, reduce clubhead speed. And if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I believe connection is an important part of a good swing.

The trick, as with anything, is realizing that you can overdo a good thing just as easily as you can overdo a bad thing.

If you try to maintain connection all the way through your swing, you'll end up with a very flat swing. It will likely be very accurate but you won't hit the ball very far with it. Connection is important during the hitting zone of your swing; let's call it waist high to waist high. You longtime readers also know I favor swings that are more upright over getting too flat -- assuming your body will allow you to make that kind of swing. You have to create a swing that works with your body, and there have been many great players with flat swings.

But as a general rule, you want to be somewhere between flat and upright to get the best balance of distance and accuracy you can.

To create a wide swing arc and get get some height to your swing, your trailing arm will eventually have to separate (or disconnect, if you prefer that term) at some point above your waist during your backswing. Your lead arm can retain some connection almost all the way back, and your lead arm will help you get your trail arm back in position  (reconnected) on the way down so you can make solid contact with the ball.

Making room the way Jack did gives you more freedom of movement and more speed in your swing, while the more connected position during impact -- which should happen pretty naturally since your lead shoulder is turning toward the target during your downswing -- will help you create the accuracy you need.

Just remember that you don't have to swing as upright as Jack did -- back in the 80s he found he had overdone that 'reach to the sky' motion and actually had to flatten his swing a bit to regain his form. Golf, like life, is a balance... and you need to find what that balance is for your body and your swing. Experimenting with what Malaska talks about in this video may help you with your search.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The LPGA's 'Drive On' Event of 2021

You may remember that, as they scrambled to create LPGA events in the wake of the pandemic and the havoc it created for the communities that normally host events, the LPGA presented two Drive On events — one at Inverness and one at Reynolds Lake Oconee.

This year it looks like we'll have a more normal schedule and hence only one Drive On event, the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala.

Gainbridge LPGA champion Nelly Korda

The photo shows last week's winner Nelly Korda, simply because we don't have a previous winner for this event. Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club has hosted an LPGA event before, but it was the 2016 Coates Championship. That event no longer exists.

But that doesn't mean there won't be a solid field for this event. Not only will Nelly and sister Jessica be there -- the two 2021 event winners thus far -- but Danielle Kang and Ally Ewing, the winners of last year's Drive On events, are also in the field. In fact, seven of the Top10 in the Rolex Rankings are there.

New sponsors have joined the event as well. I already mentioned Volvik, which has had a continuing relationship with the LPGA for some time now. But the LPGA has also added Beltz Portable Toilets, which is a local female-owned business and fits in with the LPGA's efforts to support women in all areas of life. You can learn a bit more about Beltz at this link. I think you really have to hand it to the LPGA for consistently following through in so many ways with their focus on diversity and inclusion.

GC's live coverage begins at 10am ET on Thursday. The LPGA season has finally gotten underway, with events grouped in twos and threes early on. There's a two week break after this, and then the Kia Classic and the first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration. So this week will play a big part as players 'drive on' to the ANA.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Arnold Palmer Invitational

After a poor showing at the WGC, Twofer Tuesday turns hopeful eyes to the northeast and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton

Bay Hill is such a legendary track that I don't really need to say anything about it, other than "this is the King's tournament." The field will likely be legendary as well since so many players will make their way from the Concession to Bay Hill, only a couple of hours away by car.

Tyrrell Hatton is the defending champion but the most newsworthy participant this week may be Kamaiu Johnson, who received a sponsor's exemption after a positive COVID test kept him out of the Farmers Insurance Open. (You remember his story, I'm sure. His friend Willy Mack III replaced him.) This will be his second PGA Tour start (his first was at the AT&T Pebble Beach).

As for me, I'm still chasing Top10 players. Picking players based on recent form bit me badly last week but I see that as an aberration. Let's give it another try, shall we?

  • My first pick is Viktor Hovland. In his last seven worldwide starts he has a win, two T2s, a T3, a T5 and a T6. Maybe he'll run out of steam this week -- and he's T40 and T42 in his only two starts at the API -- but I just can't bring myself to bet against him. When you go six out of seven, you're a good bet!
  • And my other pick is Rory McIlroy. Since 2017 he's gone T4-win-T6-T5 at Bay Hill, and he was T6 at the Concession last week. I'm hoping to catch him on an upswing in his game, and he has a proven record at Arnie's Place.

GC's live coverage begins at 2pm ET on Thursday. Bay Hill is one of those courses that is always in immaculate shape when the pros show up. Bay Hill may even seem like a vacation after a week at the Concession!

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 WGC-Workday

Winner: Collin Morikawa

Around the wider world of golf: Kevin Sutherland won the Cologuard Classic on the Champions Tour; Nelly Korda won the Gainbridge LPGA, getting her first win on US soil and making her and sister Jessica the first back-to-back sister victors since Annika and Charlotta did it back in 2000; Hayden Buckley won the LECOM Suncoast Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour; and Branden Grace won the Puerto Rico Open, the PGA Tour's alternate field event.

Collin Morikawa with the Gene Sarazen Cup

My Twofer Tuesday picks demonstrated why golf can be so frustrating. I had Dustin Johnson (T54) and Tony Finau (14). After nearly two months of providing at least one Top5 each week, they simply got whipped by the Concession. As a result, I concede defeat this week and watch my stats worsen.

  • Top10s: 6 for 16 (4 Top5s, 2 other Top10)
  • Winners: 0 for 8 events

Of course, when the big boys don't play so well, it follows that other players step up and show their stuff.

In the case of Collin Morikawa, it was historical stuff.

When Collin first came out on Tour, his coach's words sounded like so much hype. He talked about a young man who played with the instincts of an experienced player, and we all said "yeah, sure."

Looking back, seems he was right. Collin joined an elite group of players — I believe he's only the seventh to join since 1945 — to win at least four tournaments and one of them a major before turning 25. Furthermore, he joined his idol Tiger Woods as the only two players to win a major and a WGC before turning 25.

And he did it in a field that boasted 47 of the Top50 players in the OWGR. If the calculations are correct, he'll be #4 in that ranking on Monday.

Turns out that Collin's coach may have been downplaying his prodigy's abilities just a little. If the boy keeps on like this — four wins in his last 34 PGA Tour starts, to be exact — he might turn out to be even more like his idol than we ever dreamed.

In the meantime, Collin, enjoy your Limerick Summary. And if you plan to keep playing like this, get used to getting lots of them.

When Collin’s coach spoke like an oracle,
His praise wasn’t merely rhetorical—
The kid’s got the goods.
Like his idol, T. Woods,
His play is quite clearly historical!

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.