I recently attended a club fitting at ForeGolf with my fitter of choice, David Williams. It was interesting, as the client who is a scratch golfer, had a swing speed approaching 120mph. It got me thinking how the game has changed over the years and that we now have some type of machine to literally test everything in golf. This has to be a positive development if
- The aspiring player can identify a coach with the relevant equipment.
- The coach is qualified and able to interpret the information correctly and
- Finally, experienced enough to know what to (and not to) convey to the client.
"Knowledge can be a dangerous tool in the wrong hands."
I attend every fitting for my clients as I regard it (selfishly!) as a free education. By liaising with David on the traits and nuances of my clients swing, he can, within minutes, know what will and what most definitely won't work. This means that the other 50 minutes of the fitting can be spent experimenting and polishing. It is a process that has worked well over the years with some huge gains secured for clients.
The Power of Numbers (1)
Myself, and my business partner, former Tour Pro, Rebecca Codd, attended a Trackman seminar last week in Mount Juliet, (a sincere thank you to the Director of Golf, Matt Sandercock, who was most welcoming). Sixty teaching pros and club fitters turned up on the day. After the morning classroom session, we headed to the range to assess a six handicap golfer within the confines of a Trackman lesson. The lead instructor for Trackman, the very experienced, Michael Malone, led the way with best practices for using Trackman in a lesson scenario. The test golfer complained of two things when asked about his swing, he said he felt he "was over the top" and found it difficult to line up to his target on the golf course. He hit some shots and the Trackman figures indicated he wasn't over the top, if anything, his path was coming from the inside. We watched him for a while and he hit some nice shots but also complained of being inconsistent. From years of using pressure plates and studying 3D data at the Titleist Performance Institute, I videoed him from behind and could see...
- address - he started every swing in his toes, (one of his traits),
- backswing - he then moved back into his heels (movements that would be clearly seen on a pressure mat)
- downswing - he moved back into his toes (this is why he felt over the top) he felt as if he is tipping forward, he was!
This is a prime example of the power of cross- referencing different platforms to come to a more conclusive outcome.
Newtons 3rd Law states, "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction," if he moves one way in his swing, he must move back (to get to the ball.) Because he is rocking back and forth in his sagittal plane when swinging the club, he will find it hard to be consistent, trying to add lateral motion to a rotational swing along your frontal plane is already hard enough without adding another directional motion!
His lining up problems on course also stemmed from his setting up in his toes. Because he was tipped forward, this will skew his vision of the target. He did align the clubface properly but with both hands on the grip, thus his lead shoulder was blocking a clear view of his target. Put him on the golf course, with wind and slopes, and it's no wonder he struggles to line up correctly.
Because I was exposed to the power of testing and assessing when I was at TPI, I invested heavily in the latest diagnostic tools. (the TPI family never forget, and even though it has been eight years since I was last working there, they helped me to secure most of the equipment needed, thank you Lance Gill!. In a typical coaching session, I am looking for patterns, what are the golfer's traits? I'm not unduly concerned if he is "over the top" etc, I try and figure out what is the underlying cause? Is it an injury? Is it a movement limitation? Is it a perception problem? Is it a motor pattern problem? I listen to the sound of the club to ball contact. It is simple to fix a directional problem if the client is hitting it (relatively) out of the center of the club, it is nigh on impossible if the strike is all over the face.
Cross-referencing the different platforms gives you the complete picture, as you see one number appear, you make a mental note to check to see if its cousin appears on another platform.
Always assessing, never guessing.
It's why David Williams is so good at his job, he knows after just a few minutes, he has you in a particular box early on as he watches you swing, the numbers just confirm or deny his analysis, the rest is all part of the show, gaining the trust of the client, being empathetic, being totally honest about what he can achieve with the numbers, caring that he improves the client. Sounds obvious? so few do it.
The Power of Numbers (2)
I got a message last week from a young pro who works at the Jason Floyd Academy in Spain. (I first met Jason at a Titleist Performance Institute seminar). He wanted to collaborate on a swing sequencing issue and I will be glad to help, he is due to come visit the Harrington Golf Academy in January. I am also in constant contact with the guys from Athletic Golf Motion in the States who use the Gears system to analyse 3D data from golf swings. Finally, closer to home, I regularly try to pick the brains of a seasoned teaching pro from the North on his experience of the golf swing. It is by expanding our thinking and collaborating with other pros, that we might someday scratch the surface of how the swing works.
This is the power of numbers, as in the collective.
I doubt if anyone knows the complete story of the golf swing, as each individual golfer brings their own set of unique problems. My job description would read...
- Try and educate myself as best I can, ie. learn the numbers!
- Convey them to the client in words, images and feelings, using specific drills and interventions to help them achieve those feelings.
- Be empathetic, trying to learn how to move, in, out and around of three planes of motion is a tough ask.
There is no substitute, no book, no tutorial, and indeed, no qualification that can beat standing on a practice tee, hour after hour, seeing patterns and traits appear before your eyes, again and again. This is learning at its finest, experiential learning, the best kind, add the power of numbers to experiential learning, and you have a proven combination that works.
You are paying for my expert ability to read, extrapolate, and diagnose your swing data, not for the light bulb moments (that shine so bright but dim just as quickly). You are paying us to stop you going down those dark alleys and rabbit holes that golfers frequent because they know no better.
Numbers never lie, assess don't guess!
Player Watch - Lucas Herbert
The 22-year-old, affable Aussie, first came to my attention this year as he was in the hunt for Rookie of the Year honors on the European Tour. He finally lost out to Shubhankar Sharma, who had the most extraordinary year himself, also winning the OOM on the Asian Tour. Lucas played last week in the season-ending, DP World Tour Championship in Dubai finishing in a tie for 49th place. A lot of credit for his success so far has to go down to his caddie, the vastly experienced, Craig Connelly, who recently split from Martin Kaymer, (yeah, that guy with the beard!).
“Having Craig on my bag has definitely helped, he's been on the bag of guys like Kaymer, Paul Casey and Monty and he’s seen just about every situation there is on a golf course.” Lucas Herbert.
He teamed up with Connelly at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and immediately threw in two top ten finishes! Lucas is known as being quite aggressive on course, so having a wise head around helps keep the young Aussie grounded. He started his career as you would expect on the Australian Tour, finishing 8th on the OOM in 2017. That got him some European Tour starts but a top ten in Singapore got him into The Open in 2018 so he decided to give the EuropeanTour schedule a try! A third-place finish in Perth kicked off his first event and some highlights included shooting a 63 in Portugal (he actually led going into the final day!) He played in two Majors last year, The Open Championship at Carnoustie and the US Open at Shinnecock. (Those two courses would open your eyes to the rigors of Championship golf!) and has finished the season inside the Top hundred in the world. One to keep an eye on in 2019?
“Using golf as an excuse to see the world.”
Lucas Herbert Instagram Bio!
Rolling your wrists or rolling the face over through impact?
Swing Myths this week talks about something I regularly hear from amateur golfers, rolling the wrists or clubface through impact to create more speed? hit a draw? ...I'm told! This, let me assure you, is one of the worst pieces of advice possible to give to an amateur player. Nine times out of ten, they will smother the ball. It is a myth perpetrated at the bar and would require the hand/eye coordination of a professional.
- More Speed, the boring answer to more speed is more gym work. There is no way around working on golf specific drills for creating more speed in the swing. Better technique will certainly help, being loaded into the correct firing position is vital to allow the proper downswing sequencing to occur but technique alone won't get you to 110mph and beyond. There are a number of good golf fitness guys out there, here are four that I have first-hand knowledge of and can recommend depending on where you live.
- Garrie O'Neill - The Golf Conditioning Clinic
- Robbie Farrell - Farrell Fitness
- Robbie Cannon - Cannon Performance
- Peter O'Keefe - Peter O'Keefe Fitness
- Hitting a draw comes down to understanding ball flight. All sitting down for some swing myths about how to draw the ball?
"A draw is produced by the face of the club being OPEN at impact to the target line... what??" Yep, Open, as long as the path the club is travelling on is MORE open. Right-handed player.
So, for all your golf nerds out there, say the club face is 2 degrees open to the target line, at impact, a perfect draw would be produced if the path of the club is 4 degrees open. Why? simple maths, the face (which is 2 degrees open to the target line ) is also two degrees closed to the path. This 2:1 ratio would cause the ball to start right and draw back to the target.
As per usual, my advice is to find a competent professional golf coach in either swing or fitness and ask him/her to help you. Ask fellow members of your golf club for advice on who they went to for swing lessons or golf fitness. Some of my clients love Yoga. Anything that gets you moving is a positive step in helping you to play and enjoy your golf more! Word of mouth is the best recommendation.
Around the World
- 14 Club Shootout - Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera Bello feature in Episode 8! Courtesy of the European Tour.
- Cameron Champ - fascinating review of a 12-year-old Cameron swinging, courtesy of the golfchannel.com
- Johnny Miller - the king of iron play gives his ten rules for hitting it close courtesy of golfdigest.com
An hour to spare?
I am a big fan of Podcasts, I like to listen to them in the background while working on all things digital! There are some terrific ones around (if you know where to look) and I will try to guide you towards some of my favorites! This week it's Butch Harmon along with some of the Sky Sports golf team discussing Tiger Woods, this is a gem of a podcast, 20 minutes of unscripted gold! Courtesy of SkySports.
“He needs to go back to being a bum, he beat everybody when he was a bum...” Butch Harmon.
Quotes of the week
“To be able to end the year like this, and just keep on fighting throughout the whole year, has meant the world to me”
Lexi Thompson wins the CME Group Tour Championship to avoid her first winless season since her rookie year.
“I've been playing a bunch of golf, just been doing a lot of client golf, It's been fun. Actually realized that I love the game again, that I actually love playing it. Sometimes you get out of here and you just beat yourself up, especially in a year that was bad. I feel better now and, I don't know, it's been kind of fun.”
Jason Gore former one time winner on the PGA Tour, who is now an insurance salesman, was at one stage, one off the lead at the RSM Classic last weekend and finished top 15.
“It felt great today, I'm very proud of myself."
Ariya Jutanugarn gets home by the skin of her teeth to win the season-long Race to CME Globe. She briefly lost the lead in the projected Globe standings on Sunday after Brooke Henderson applied early pressure to grab the top spot. But Ariya held firm to reclaim the advantage down the stretch. Impressive stuff by the 22- year-old powerhouse from Thailand.
Last word this week goes to the Redemption Kids!
- Lexi Thompson won the CME Group Tour Championship last weekend by four shots. This is the exact same tournament that she missed a gimmie to win in 2017 and up to this was winless.
- Danny Willet last won a small tournament called the Masters! an unbelievable 952 days before he won again at the DP World Tour Championship.
- Charles Howell last won eleven years ago but struck again last weekend after a playoff at the RSM Classic.
Proving, that there is hope for us all, keep the faith!
Thank you for reading, enjoy your golf this week if you get out to play, and I will talk to you all on Friday!
Tadhg Harrington is a full time, professional golf instructor, and owner of the Harrington Golf Academy, based in Dublin, Ireland. He is a graduate of the Titleist Performance Institute and Setanta College. He is the eldest brother of three-time time Major Champion, Padraig Harrington.
He succeeds, employing empathy, passion and exceptional customer service, teaching above the noise, the quick tips, and the latest fads and is truly unique in the Irish golf industry.
The Harrington Golf Academy provides long term coaching programs designed to bring sensory processing to motor learning skills. Tadhg teaches the long game at Drynam Park Golf Centre and short game at Roganstown GC. His business partner, Ex European Tour Player, Rebecca Codd, teaches full time at Clarity House on the Belgard Road in Tallaght!