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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.

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