golf-greens

Few golfers know what kind of grass their playing on, let alone how the grass has an impact on their games from tee to green. Pros on the other hand are very aware of this change, and can and do make adjustments to their equipment, swings and technique to help better their chances of scoring well. In this article we’ll talk a little bit about the most common types of golf grasses out there, and how they can affect your game.

Most Common Type of Grass

bermuda-grass bentgrass poa-annua-grass
Bermuda Bentgrass Poa Annua
 - very thick grass – common in the South  - some of the most common golf grass, especially a different strain – creeping bentgrass.- holds its line extremely well, very reliable grass - commonly considered a parasitic type grass, can easily replicate and takeover other grasses- can look yellow and wiry, and often is uneven on a putting surface

Bermuda Golf Tips

Bermuda can be a real bitch, especially when you get into the rough. The structure of this grass is thicker per weight than most other grasses played on golf courses. So hitting from the rough can be especially difficult, as this grass tends to grab and twist your club, and robs you of speed, and thus distance. Furthermore, the ball isn’t well supported, so it usually sits down in the rough and needs to be dug out from its nested lie. Consider using a club with more loft and make sure you’re attacking the ball with a descending blow. Tightening up your grip a bit when you’re in the deep stuff can also help. This grass is often found in the southern United States due to its sensitivity to cold. TPC Sawgrass is build on bermuda grass. Moral of this story – keep it in the fairway.

From the fairway, you will notice that more often than not you’ll be hitting from tighter lies, and because of this the ball tends to fly further when struck. Ball first contact is a must, and these fairways have been described as “spongier”. Because this grass grows in more of a gnarly tangle than straight up, lies from the fairway can be a little sticky. Chunking shots on this type of grass is especially common, so hit the ball below the ground.

When you’re playing on Bermuda greens, there’s a couple things you should know. This grass is pretty grainy and will tend to follow the sun throughout the day. The ball will also tend to follow the grain, so knowing how the grain lies is important on this type of grass. If the grass appears a dull, dark green, the grain is likely growing toward you, and will slow your putts. If the grass looks shiny and light green, it is likely growing away from you, and the ball will roll more. This grass also has a tendency not to roll out as much as other grasses, due to its stronger structure.

Bentgrass Golf Tips
Bentgrass rough is pretty tame, the ball can often sit up and doesn’t give you much of a problem to get out of it. Sweeping it off this rough is common. One thing you need to be aware of is watching where this grass is growing in relation to your target. If the grass if growing in the direction of your target, you will often get flyer lies, if it lies against you, expect it to slow your club down quickly upon impact.

Bentgrass fairways are usually softer, and often are mowed quite tightly as the grasses grow straight up. Shots to the fairway often roll out. These fairways are easy and straightforward to hit off of.

Bentgrass greens are some of the most common on the planet, due to their thick root structure and ability to withstand a ton of foot traffic. Furthermore, this grass makes some of the best greens on the planet, and is notorious for being able to hold the line of your putts no matter what type of stroke you put on it. Also a broader variety of strokes can be used on the greens with this type of grass. Ideally you want the ball to be rolling ASAP on the greens, but this is not as important on this type of grass, it is incredibly smooth, and even putting strokes that cause the ball to hop and skip won’t hurt you too much in the end.

Poa Annua Golf Tips
This grass is considered by many greenskeepers as an invasive species. It usually finds its way onto golf courses all over the planet by hitching a ride from one course to another on a golfers shoes. From there it can take root, and begin to grow. You can pick it out because of its lighter green color, and the fact that it grows in small patches amongst other grasses.

Poa Annua rough is slightly less tangly than bentgrass, and often requires less force to help the ball get out. More times than not, this grass doesn’t put up much resistance to golf clubs, and can leave golfers with decent rough lies with the ball sitting up on occasion.

Poa annua grass has one specific quality that a lot of people hate – different strains of the grass can grow at different rates. So this means that if you play in the afternoon, you can be dealing with much bumpier greens than people who played in the morning. Pebble Beach is built on Poa annua, and this is an often complaint of players. When it comes to putting, the faster you can get the ball rolling the better, balls that jump off the face and hop and skip on the greens can often be bumped offline on this type of grass. Furthermore hitting putts true, and on the sweet spot is recommended, anything short of good stroke will cause the ball to roll offline and the mistake will be exaggerated.

 

Sweet Spot in Golf Explained

Much like center of gravity, you’ll often hear that golf manufacturers have increased their sweet spot by 50% or more from one years designs to the next. But what does this actually mean? What is the sweet spot? Where is it on the club?

First and foremost, I want to dispel one rumor right now. The clubs sweet spot IS NOT its center of gravity. In fact, a club sweet spot is the exact spot on the club where if a ball hits it, the club will not twist because it has equal weight on either side of the club. Ever wondering why hitting the ball right on the sweet spot feels like you’ve hit nothing at all? Well, what you consider the ‘feel’ of a shot is in fact simply the vibrations you feel from impact and off-center hits. The better the shot, the less the vibrations, and the ‘better’ the feel. The poorer the contact, the worse it feels.

With all this said however, the center of gravity of a club does play a bit of a role in feel, but likely not in the way most of you would expect. When it comes to woods and irons, manufacturers, for the most part have been trying to keep the center of gravity’s low and back from the clubface. By doing this, it helps the average golfer get the ball airborne faster, but also, and most importantly, helps reduce the club twisting on off-center hits. Cavity back irons are a classic example. They are designed that way to help ensure off-center hits still ‘feel’ solid. So while you surely missed the sweet spot, the low and back center of gravity helps reduce the vibrations, and thus a poor shot, is no longer so poor, and feels less poor also. Another term used to describe this design type is around MOI. A back and low center of gravity helps increase the moment of inertia (MOI) of your shots.

The easiest way to prove all this is to stick a blade in the hands of an beginner. Blade style irons have no cavity and thus the center of gravity of these clubs is very close to face, so they have a reduce MOI, and off-center hits produce a ton of vibrations, and poorer results. Better amateurs and professionals use blades because of the added feel, and also their ability to work the ball. Luckily their swings are consistent enough to hit rather close to the sweet spot more times than not, so consistency is not a huge issue.

Source: www.intotherough.co.uk

Source: www.intotherough.co.uk

Last, but certainly not least is understanding exactly where your clubs sweet spot is. 9 times out of 10 its does not lie where the manufacturer put the X on the clubface, and thats because the sweet spot is rarely located smack dab in the center of the club. When you consider what a club looks like and its weight distribution, you’ll notice a fair bet of weight around the hosel of the club, especially in irons. This simple design characteristic will generally move the sweet spot closer to the heel of your club than the very center. An easy way to test is to hold your club in two fingers from the grip butt end, and then take the pointed end of a tee, and tap along the face. Tap the center of the club, and I’ll bet you, you’ll still see some twisting. The true sweet spot of your club lies where the club doesn’t twist at all.

Give it a shot, and start lining up your ball from your club actual sweet spot and start puring more shots!

gap-wedge

Okay, if you didn’t know any better you’d likely think we likely have a wedge fetish or something if you read our last post about lob wedges, but I’ll tell you now, we won’t be making a post on a 64 degree wedge.

Gap wedges used to be hard to find, rarely used, and more or less unrequired for a vast portion of the golfing population. Only better players who could rattle off the lofts of all their clubs like some Sound of Music “Do Re Mi” remake would carry such a thing. Well, times are a changing my friends, and it may be time you start re-looking at the gap wedge.

The gap wedges original purpose was fit the gap in loft between the standard 48 degree pitching wedge and the sand wedge at 56. This 8 degree different often left players with a 25 yards distance where they were forced to make half swings, despite being within the 150 yard marker. Half swings are rarely a golfers best friend when it comes to consistency, so the gap wedge was born. Golfers could now hit their pitching wedges 125, gap 110 and sand wedges 95-100. So for them, this problem was solved.

For the less serious golfer however, this problem was avoided altogether, which ain’t really a big deal, until you begin to consider what golf manufacturers have started to do to your irons.

Iron sets are getting stronger and stronger in loft
Major OEM’s are continually trying to get more distance out of their irons. New technologies are helping golfers get the ball on much higher trajectories, and airborne faster and more often. This has allowed them to turn the loft of your pitching wedge into the same as an 8-iron in other sets. And as you would expect, these are rarely included in stock sets.

Here’s an example:

  • The Rocketbladez pitching wedge carries a loft of 45 degrees (luckily TaylorMade also has a 50 degree gap, but of course it’s extra).
  • The TaylorMade Rac MB TaylorMade pitching wedge carried a loft of 48 degrees (released in 2002).
  • In the 1960′s pitching wedges had lofts of 50-51 degrees (source)

So why does this matter?

Well, for one, the loft of sand wedges and lob wedges are not changing too much at all. While you can get them in a variety of degrees, more or less the standard loft for sand wedges are between 54-56 and lob wedges are between 58-60. But now pitching wedges are carrying 45 degrees. Thats a gap of 9-11 degrees, and even for the amateur golfer, this starts to become an issue in the scoring department. We’re now looking at a 30-40 yard difference for some golfers from their pitching wedge to their sand wedge, and this is in your prime scoring zone.

So what should you buy?

And what should you get rid of (seeing as you can only have 14 clubs in your bag)? When it comes to purchasing a wedge, the best bet is to have some consistency in their differences of loft. In my bag, my pitching wedge is 46 degrees, gap wedge is 50, sand wedge is 54 and lob is 58. I’d recommend something similar. If your pitching wedge is 45 degrees, get a 50 degree gap wedge, 55 degree sand wedge and 60 degree lob (if you want/need one). When it comes to what you should get rid of that’s a slightly tougher question. Personally I have two woods, 3-9 iron, four wedges and a putter. I would suggest you rid yourself of any club often costing you strokes – and more often than not, that’s a wood or long iron. 2-hybrids can often replace a 3-wood and 3-iron.

Whatever you choose, be aware of the loft of your clubs and the distances they go, because as major OEM’s push the boundaries of technology to help improve your game, at times, gaps are opening up in your game that need to be addressed.

wedge-overview

Walking into any golf shop in town you’ll find iron sets that go from 3-pw or even more commonly now, 4-pw with a hybrid. But why only a pitching wedge? It’s no secret pitching wedges aren’t the pros clubs or choice around the greens, and especially not so from the sand. So why don’t more sets include them? The short answer, is so they can make more money, and while this post could rag on the OEM’s for this simple fact, we’d prefer to take the high road and simply explain why when it comes to wedges, the more the merrier (as long as the total numbers doesn’t exceed 14).

Okay, back to the lob wedge. I’m sure many of you reading this have two wedges in your bag. A pitching wedge and a sand wedge. You more often than not use the sand wedge for a variety of shots around the greens, and not just from the sand. That’s great! For the most part, if you have confidence in your game around the greens that will goes miles further than any additional club. But with that said I would like you to consider a few things before you move on.

source: http://www,thesandtrap.com

source: http://www.thesandtrap.com

Sand wedges, generally come with high bounce. To those of you who don’t know, this basically means that the leading edge of the sand wedge is raised above the trailing edge to help prevent the club from digging into the turf or sand when performing a shot. While this is all good and well in sand and the rough. When it comes to shots from the fairway, you are much more likely to hit shots thin.

Ever skulled a chip with your sand wedge? Or bladed a full swing shot from the fairway over the green? While I can’t honestly say its just the wedge’s fault, there is a strong possibility that if you have a wedge with lower bounce, this may not have happened. Better players tend to prefer lower bounce, as this helps eliminate this fault from their game.

A lob wedge generally has less bounce than a sand wedge, which means around the greens, it is the ideal club to use.

Next up in the benefits of the lob wedge is the loft. This club will hit the ball the highest, and impart the most amount of spin for going such a short distance. If you’re ever faced with a shot to a tight pin, or one where you need the ball to stop quickly, this is your club of choice. For most players out there who are not already using a lob wedge, you’re more often than not likely missing the greens in the exact place you don’t want to put the ball, leaving you little green to work with (also known as short-siding yourself). Golf designers strategic place bunkers and hills around greens to take advantage of this fact. A lob wedge is a great club to help you get out of these tight situations.

With all this said, the lob wedge is not the be all and end all of short game clubs. I for one prefer to use my low bounce sand wedge for a majority of my shots around the greens, but when I have a particularly tight shot, I change things up to my low bounce lob wedge.

Now, I know this club takes some getting used to, but with practice it will easily becomes your best friend around the greens, and surely save you strokes. When it comes to the number of clubs in your bag, if the lob wedge puts you over the 14 count, you likely have some unnecessary duplication. Likely a 3-iron and a 3-hybrid of similar loft, or a 5 wood (all of which are around 20 degrees). Ditch the club you’re least confident with and focus on getting know your lob wedge. You’ll be flopping shots like Phil in no time – we promise you won’t regret it.

Center of Gravity Golf

You likely read it in just about every new club design description going back twenty years, but what does ‘center of gravity’ exactly mean? And how does it affect your golf game? Well, in a nutshell, center of gravity is important for your trajectory, spin and for keeping off-center shots on line, and on target. In this post we’ll dive a little deeper into center of gravity and how it plays a role in your golf game.

Let’s start with Trajectory

center-of-gravity-v2Whether its your driver, iron or even your putter, the center of gravity plays a role in the trajectory of your shot. For all three of these club types, manufacturers have attempted to make your life on the course easier by placing the center of gravity of the clubs lower than the bottom half of the ball. By doing so, this helps you the golfers gets the ball airborne more easily. Yes, this is even true with the putter. Putters carry about 2 degrees of loft, and if you watch in slow motion, the ball gets slightly airborne before it starts its roll. The lower the center of gravity, the higher the trajectory of the shot. The opposite is true for clubs with higher center of gravities. And obviously the loft of the club you’re using plays a major role as well.

Now on to Spin
While loft plays the biggest role, the position of a clubs center of gravity can affect a shots trajectory and thusly affect the amount of spin on the ball.

Most importantly we come to Side-Spin
This is where center of gravity plays its biggest role. You’ve likely hear the term MOI or moment of inertia before in reference to golf club design. Well, manufacturers have consistently tried to increase a clubs MOI by moving a clubs center of gravity far away from the clubface. By adding in heel and toe eights (technology you’ve seen in irons and woods for decades), the engineers have been pushing and pushing to move the center of gravity back from the face (much like the image to the right). By doing so, they significantly have changed how a club reacts on off-center hits. Golf clubs designed with a much higher MOI will not twist nearly as much as one’s without on off-center hits. This helps the average golfer keep their ball in play, even when their swing is not up to snuff.

Off-center hits are also helped by the bulge and roll effect with drivers and woods, but thats a topic we’ve already covered in another post.

We hope that makes more sense, and before we hear about it in the comments, and because we have a whole post coming out on it in a few days time, I want to be very clear – center of gravity IS NOT a clubs sweet spot.

golf-seniors

“Age” is not a disease. Too many golfers over 50 just accept that their golf game is going to get worse, their drives are going to get wimpy, and their eventually going to have to settle for hitting 5 woods for all of their approach shots……….hooey, garbage, not true!

A 62-year-old golfer with flexibility.

A 62-year-old golfer with flexibility.

We have a saying in physical therapy, “AGE IS NOT A DISEASE.” Which means that you do not have to accept “age” related declines in your life or in your game. In fact, it does not take that much effort to restore and keep your youthful swing.

There is a lot of talk about golf flexibility, a lot of programs out their to improve your flexibility with 101 stretches to do every day so you can do the splits and wrap your leg around your head. You want an easier answer? There are only 5 key joints/muscles that are responsible for all your “age” related declines in golf….here we go.

Written from the right hand golfer perspective and in order of importance:

1. Right Hip External Rotation

That is, being able to rotate your hips in your backswing without your right leg moving. Without good rotation of the right hip, it is impossible to use your right leg for a strong post in your backswing. Poor rotation leads to swing faults such as: reverse pivot shift, swaying in the backswing, excessively short backswing, to name a few.

2. Torso Rotation
Loss of torso (thoracic) rotation is a BIG problem in golfers over 50. Loss of this rotation leads to extreme power loss, loss of the so called “x-factor,” excessively short backswings, an over the top swing move leading to pulls and slicing golf shots.

3. Left shoulder horizontal abduction

That is, crossing your left arm across the body for your backswing. This is key to having swing width, which is on of the vital components to power without having to add muscle or swing harder. Poor flexibility here leads to a backswing with many compensatory breakdowns such as collapsing the elbows in the backswing or an extremely limited backswing.

4. Right shoulder elbow rotation

That is, can you keep your right elbow pointing straight down at the top of your backswing. I find this to be very common in golfers over 50 because, outside of the golf swing, most people do you use this motion very often. As they say, if you don’t use it….. This restriction results in fatal swing faults such as the dreaded flying elbow, chicken winging, slicing swing path, a swing path that is too steep and, thus, a lot of fat shots.

5. Neck rotation to the left

That is, being able to turn your head and look over your left shoulder. Neck stiffness problems begin to occur in the 50’s and continue precipitously from there. Loss of this vital motion, prevents the golfer over 50 from being able to keep his/her head still while allowing full shoulder rotation. If your head is moving, it becomes extremely difficult to hit a still object with any sort of consistency.

There you have it, the TOP 5. By focusing on your key problem areas, you can regain and keep the swing of your youth, including all the power that comes with it.

You can avoid wasting a lot of time and energy (and possible injury) on the latest joint ripping stretches the latest guru in a tank top with bulging biceps is touting.

You don’t need to be able to do the splits to have a great golf swing. Focus a brief time during the day to the areas in which you will get the most bang for your buck and start enjoying golf again.

Thanks for Reading!

About the Author. Dr. Ryan York is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Golf Performance Specialist. He Co-created Age Defying Golf which serves men and women golfers between the ages of 50-75 years young. Visit us at www.agedefyinggolf.com.

Header image: http://bogeyblog.com/

Golf-Fitness

You see it on every range and course you play – someone with a swing where their front heel lifts off the ground at the top of the backswing.  And while for some players, this is a necessary swing adjustment in order to produce a solid turn, for most, its actually hindering the creation of tension and coil between the upper and lower body.   This same resistance is what helps generate and create power in the downswing.  In the video below we look a little closer into this swing fault, but with a focus on the weak lower body, characterized by your knees being very close together at the top of your backswing. We call it over-rotation, and it often leads to over-swinging at the top. Both faults tend to produce similar swing results – a lack of power, distance and consistency at impact.

This drill is designed to help you feel the proper tension/resistance at the top of your backswing.  By simply turning your lead foot towards the target, you make it all but impossible to have a weak lower body, or over-turn at the top.  Your torso muscles will resist the movement.  For those of you who lift your front foot at the top – try this drill for awhile, and then swing normally focusing on keeping your front heel on the ground — take notice of the similarities in feel. For those of you who tend to rotate your lower body too much, focus on keeping your knees equidistant to each other throughout the swing, and facing perpendicular to your target line until impact.

With a little practice you should see a big difference in the amount of power you can create, and distance the ball will travel. See the video below.
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A weak back knee triggers one of the most common power-leaks in the golf swing. We often see this fault in individuals who, in their search for a bigger turn, have flared out their back foot. Without a stable back knee, as you swing back, your body weight can shift too far towards your back foot, this move will make it very difficult to return to the ball with any consistency and power. A strong back knee allows you to coil properly, while shifting your weight to maximize your power into impact.

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Learning the proper sequencing of the backswing takes time and plenty of practice. Many players, in attempts to combat a slice, revert to a swing that use very little body, and lots of arms. These types of swings are characterized by a complete lack of weight shift, poor contact, and a suffer dramatic power loss. If you find yourself at the top of your backswing with the club very close to your shoulders – you’re likely a victim of this fault.

 

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Accuracy Line Shoulders Accuracy is a characteristic we all are looking to have in our games, especially with the shorter irons. Apart from some fundamental keys, like solid balance, there is one particular swing trait all accurate golfers seem to have adopted. On their downswing they get their shaft in line with their lead arm.

If you can emulate this technique in your swing… you will notice how much easier control and keep the ball on-line. Although, some advocates of the two-plane swing may disagree, I like to see my students get into this position as it makes the rest of the downswing incredibly easy and automatic. It allows you to make a more aggressive move into the ball, guarantees you do not need to make any last minute swing manipulations to your swing to ensure you’re coming into the ball on path and in-line.

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