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Friday, December 2, 2016

A Visualization Tip from John Toepel Jr.

The late John Toepel Jr. was a former PGA Tour pro and president of Concept Golf, a company in the Raleigh-Durham area of NC. I have a book he wrote called Golf Can't Be This Simple: The Swing (I also have another book by him called GCBTS: Playing the Game) that has some interesting ideas in it.

One of the coolest things in the book is a visualization tip to help players who have trouble getting the ball off the ground, especially with long clubs. The tip is simply this:
If you have trouble getting the ball off the ground, try to hit the ball no higher than knee level for about a hundred yards.
I know that sounds weird, but obviously he isn't talking about hitting the ball so it rolls along the ground. What he wants you to do is hit the ball so it flies at knee level for around a hundred yards or so.

The key here is that Toepel says it won't. Instead, you'll get a solid shot with a proper trajectory.

Doesn't sound very helpful, does it? Yet Toepel says it has helped his students. Why would it?

Think about this for a moment. As Toepel points out, many of the best ball strikers come from windy parts of the world like Texas and Scotland, where they're forced to keep the ball low.

When players try to hit the ball up in the air, they usually try to hit the ball on the upswing, the way you would hit a ball on a tee. But if the ball is sitting on the ground, an upward strike means you hit the ball thin. You want to hit the ball with a slight downward strike... and that's the natural thing to do if you try to hit the ball low.

Toepel suggests that you try to hit every club low, even if you're trying to hit a wedge over a tree. He says to set the clubface and ball position for the shot you want, but hit the ball with the idea that it will fly knee high. The loft will get the ball up, but the attempt to hit a low shot will create the necessary solid contact to get that result.

So if you're having trouble hitting solid shots that get the ball off the ground, try to hit the ball so it flies knee high for a hundred yards or so. You might be surprised how much your ball striking improves.

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