Changing Your Golf Game – Lesson 1

By: Tony Adragna on October 16th, 2013

Tony Adragna is a former high school basketball player that has played the game of golf a couple of times a year, but would like to get more serious about it.  Tony has had no golf training, and his game reflects that.

With that said, Purgatory Golf Owner and PGA Professional, Mike Merchent, is ready to help Tony transform his golf game.

In this series, “Changing Your Golf Game,” Tony and Mike will work on Tony’s game throughout the winter, so by the time spring rolls around, Tony will be on the right path to being a better golfer.

In episode one, Mike shows Tony some very basic drills to help clean up Tony’s form, and the two of them take a look at Tony’s swing in slow-motion to pinpoint where some of the problems lie.

Look for new episodes each week.


Mike Merchent: Hi today we’re here with Tony at Purgatory Gold Club. We’re gonna
give Tony a golf lesson. Tony hasn’t….He’s never had a golf lesson. So this will be his
first golf lesson. We’re gonna video tape some of these and just see if we can help
Tony improve his game. Ok Tony, do you play much golf?
Tony Adragna: I play a couple of times a year, nothing too extensive, if I break a
hundred like I said, I’m pretty happy.
Mike Merchent: Ok, if Tony breaks a hundred he’s happy. what about any
preconceived ideas, have you read any books? What little you know about golf,
where did you learn it?
Tony Adragna: Basically I’m just playing and kinda doing whatever I thought felt
right which most of the time probably isn’t the right case.
Mike Merchent: Ok so everything you do is instinctive.
Tony Adragna: Correct.
Mike Merchent: When you think about anything, about how to grip the club.
Tony Adragna: I was taught by my dad how to grip it when I first started playing and
I’ve held that grip ever since.
Mike Merchent: Okay, do you have any physical limitations that we need to know
Tony Adragna: No.
Mike Merchent: Everything seems to feel okay when you swing a club feel like a
healthy kid
Tony Adragna: Yup. All feels good.
Mike Merchent: Okay. Well, pretty sure I knew that question but I gotta ask you
anyway just to make sure. Tony’s left handed so we’re gonna be, we’re gonna be
working with it from that standpoint point. Do you think there’s any difference
between left and right handed as far as how you would hit the ball? Or is it the
same, or just opposite?
Tony Adragna: I think it’s the same, just opposite. But I honestly don’t really know
the answer to that question. When I see myself swinging and see a right handed
person swing, it all kinda look the same to me obviously except from the other side
of the ball
Mike Merchent: Okay, well it is the same. there’s used to be some opinions that it
was different but it, it’s not. They make more clubs now for left handed players. The
selections are so much greater now than more even ten years ago. So what we’re
gonna do is I’m just gonna observe Tony. I did want him to hit shots before he got
here. I just wanna catch him raw. he’s not really loose, he’s not really warm, but
we’re gonna get in to that. but his flaws are gonna show up more vividly when he
has to have the chance to really make some swings, get loose and kinda work on nd on the zones. So let’s just do this. I’m gonna sit back and may ask you some
questions. But I’m just gonna observe right now.
Tony Adragna: K
Mike Merchent: the flag over here to your right. Little more. So we’re gonna go for
that flag down there, you see the closest one to us?
Tony Adragna: Yup.
Mike Merchent: That’s our primary line.
Tony Adragna: K
Mike Merchent: Wanna move this balls out of way to make sure you have some
clearance. Okay. I don’t want you to think about anything. I just want to, nice and
easy, make a couple of swings as if you’re gonna hit it, 15 or 20 yards.
Okay, now we’re gonna go in, review some of these pictures. Then will
come out, I’ll give you more of an assessment of what I think you need to do
and we’ll move forward from there.
We took some video footage of your swing here. face off and down the
line, this is down the line. I wanna point out a couple of things here that I
think you do really good. See your arms how they fall right below your
shoulders, that’s perfect. That’s exactly where you want them. Your arms,
your shoulders, that’s your source of support. That’s where your hands will
gravitate as they move to impact. Your back is nice and flat right there. I
really like that. You don’t want too much curvature one way or the other. So, a
really good flat back right there. notice your knees right here. You gotta little
too much bend to your knees. Your hands actually kinda fall between your
knees. Okay? That’s your first few few. Now I’d like to go back to what we call
quarter position right here. The club’s moving back. Okay. That’s the quarter
position right there. one thing that I, I want you to see right here is club face
is just a little bit shut. Do you see that? Club face is a little too shut right
here. Not bad. At this point in time it’s more of a function of your grip which
like I said in a scale of one to ten, it’s about a five. We’ll clean your grip up
that’s not gonna be problem at all. I like where your arms again, your right
arms, they’re in perfect position right there. It’s parallel to your target line.
It’s your target line down there. And from here, we’re gonna go up to your top
of your back swing. Then notice how as the club goes back further, knows
how you’ve been over a little bit more. So you actually increase that angle.
That’s not very common. you don’t wanna do it, but the fact that you can do
it is really good because that you’re very flexible. And we’re gonna take your
flexibility and we’re gonna make it an asset rather than a liability. Right now
it’s a liability. . But we’ll turn it into a positive. So along that, those lines your
hips. Knows here, your bob buckle right there. Your bob buckle pointing right,
right at me and you. That’s a, that’s a.. That means your hips are over
rotated. Okay? you’ll be able to see this from the face of the back. I can see
here, you’re over rotated with your hips. And you’ve actually increased the ngle from your hips to your shoulders, not very common. I like your arms
right here. Your arms just right on the plane. Your arms on the plane, that’s
good right there. Now we’re gonna start you down to swing. Okay now this
position here, you know, what I really like is I really like the space here
between your, your right form and your left form and that’s really good. Your
back is still, it’s in a good position. I still like that posture with your back.
That’s good. notice how you’re not been over quite slow that impact. So as
the club is going back, you’ve been over more and as the club is coming to,
you’re coming out of that posture. Okay, well you’re raising or lowering with
your body like that, that forces the club to do some things that you really
don’t want to do and it makes the timing of hitting the ball difficult. You can
see in this particular instance you didn’t hit it so well. You kinda topped it. So
you’ve got the club, as it’s going back, you’re bending over. And then as the
club is coming down, you’re straighten up. And that coming out posture with
your body forces you cast it or release the club too early. And then, as you
come on through you can see you really released in the step of your left foot.
Your hips and shoulders and body are rotating to your right. And you’re in a
pretty classic position right there. So you get to the right position but you
don’t get there into the right sequence you gotta few more moving parts than
you really need, okay? Now we’re gonna look at this from another angle. One
other thing that I wanted to point out. As that club coming thru, you’re really
looking down toward the ball. And that’s good, you wanna look toward down
to the ball. But from this point forward, that ball is gone. That ball is gone. You
gotta release your eyes from that position there, and allow your body to
release and rotate through. Right there is when you release your eyes, now
you let yourself go, okay? That ball is long gone. Gotta release your eyes, let
your body rotate round and through. You get away with it because as flexible
as you are, you can do that. If I try to do that, I’d be in the hospital bed.
Stance is good about shoulder width. Hand position is good as a little bit
forward and center. Your right arm is nice and extended. So those were all
good and positive things. As that club goes back. Let’s stop at this quarter
position again. Okay. That’s, again that’s the club in the good position. I like
your right arm. I like how the arm is moving because your shoulders are
moving it. You’re not snatching that club up. You’re not picking it up, you’re
not pulling it inside. The club is right on plane. you’ll notice though, your
right knee has started to give way. You start bending over a little bit too much
right there you start to bend over the more. Your right knee is kicking in.
And.. and you can see now what I was referring to with your hips. Your hips
have really what is called over rotation. Now you’re really rotating your hips
down there. To the point where you’ve got more of your body in front of the
ball than you have behind it. Okay? But your shoulder have rotated well.
Great shoulder position right there. Your right arm is in a really good position
right there. So you’ve bent over more. The hips are over rotated. And that
right knee is really kicked in on you there, okay? But phenomenally enough.
Your left foot is flat on the ground. You know, if you. Most people there will try
to rotate their hips that much. That left foot will collapse and roll to the
outside. And then will be a toolbox. Okay, so from that position there we’re gonna start down. Now that.. Now is when you’re coming down to your
posture. Okay, so you’re started to raise up. Your hips are really trying to get
back to a good position here. You’ve re really cleared your hips. But because
that had it so far, they needed to rotate to get back to. I mean, this will be a
good position for your hips to be in, you know, almost on top of your back
swings. But because they had to rotate so much, they really can’t rotate that
far that fast. . So as a result, you’re now raising up with your upper body to
make room for the club to come through. You raised up too much. You’ll top
it. You don’t come out with your posture, you’ll hit it fast. So you know, you’re
counting on that, raising and lowering of your torso to determine, whether
you hit the ball well or not. You know, we wanna eliminate that. So when I say
there are more moving parts than you need that’s clearly one of them. We
wanna establish our posture. And then we wanna maintain our posture. So we
may eliminate that variable. The more variables you eliminate, the more
consistent you’ll be. And as you can see, you’ve kinda casted that club
there’s really not much bend there anymore. You’ve got the club right there.
So you’ve really released all the energy of the club back here. There’s your
club head right there. Now there’s impact right there. Now at impact, your
head’s behind the ball. So that’s good. Your hips and body are in front of it
which is not so good. But that’s understandable given what you’re doing.
Really good position here with your right arm. Again I like that position with
your right arm. I like that position of your right foot. It’s nice and flat on the
ground. I like the position of your left foot. You just release to the instep of
that left foot. And then let’s clear on through. And you’ll see now, what I was
talking about earlier where your eyes are so intensely looking down to the
ball. That you’re starting to form a chicken wing here. And that is absorbing
the energy of the club is moving to something gotta absorb it right now that’s
what’s doing it because with your eyes looking at the ball so long and as
intense as they are, it’s not allowing your body to rotate through. Cause that
arm kinda absorbs it. And right about here, you’re about to release, I mean
your eyes are still looking down and your body is pulling your head up and
really not looking at the target but you’re trying. Right about there is where
you start to release and look down the target. Now your finished position here
is good. Maybe a little too much of a “C” right here. That can be a little bit…
that can wear on your back, and I’d like to be more straight up and down line
right here. And we’ll eventually get there. All in all though, you did some
really positive things. You’ve gotta great range motion. And now is what we
need to do is tidy that great motion up and get you moving in the proper
sequence. And in order to do that we’re gonna work in a drill called the elbow
drill, and that eliminates the need for you to grip the club really. It takes the
hands and arms out of it. And allows you just to focus on the motor of your
golf swing. How you move from your head, your toes without using your
hands and arms. And that’s how we’ll develop and build this swing over the
winter time. Break it down into a small pieces so you can work on them. One
at a time. Moving very slowly so you can control the movement and then
gradually speeding things up. As you get more comfortable with the
movement. You can then speed it up and then, get to a point where you can dd a ball in it. And really groove that over the winter time. So that we come
out in the spring, you’ll be ready to go. You won’t be thinking about your golf
swing that much. And I expect your performance level to be really
outstanding compared to what it is right now. I think you’ll be surprised, but if
you do what we asked you to do, I won’t be surprised.
When we were in the car and were having that conversation looking at
some of that video, one of the things that I noticed is how intensely you look
at the ball. And when I asked you if you have some preconceived ideas that
you tried to do or anything you don’t try to do. You really didn’t have any
answers. But now we’ve discovered that you are trying to keep your eye on
the ball.
Tony Adragna: Yep.
Mike Merchent: Okay. I’ve tried to help people over the years that golf really is a
hand eye coronation sport. Ball is not moving. so blind people with some assistance
can play golf. It’s really difficult to throw a curve ball. Okay so, you want your vision
to be an asset and it can be. But don’t make it a liability because that’s what you’re
doing. You’re so intensely focusing your eyes on the ball. You’re not allowing your
body to move freely. And that’s gonna cause you some problems striking the ball
over time. But also physically. As you’re coming through impact once that club hits
the ball, it’s long gone. You need to go ahead and get your eyes released so you can
look down to the target, takes the pressure off your back. So I’m just gonna show
you few things to help you with your game, also help you with your body, help
prevent you from any further injury. Okay, I want you to set up like you’re gonna
make a swing. Okay, go ahead and grip the club. Okay again, your grip, on a scale
of one to ten is about a six, seven is not great, not bad, but we’re not gonna focus
there. That’s kinda your only security blanket that you have right now. So we’re
gonna keep that intact. You’ve got good arms, good arm position, fall straight from
your shoulders. As far as knee flex goes, here’s a good way to check this. If you just
stood straight up, and lock your legs, and unlock them, that’s all about the knee flex
that you need. The bend to get to the ball comes from the waist. You are, you’re
bending from the knees and the knee from the waist. So let’s not bend so much
from the knees, bend more from the hips. That’s perfect right there. That’s where
we gonna start. We’re gonna start with your posture, and we’re gonna start with
your head. When you make this swing here, I want you to let your eyes release a
little bit behind the ball to your left. Let’s make a couple practice swings. Not bend
your knee so much. And this go ahead, start slowly..
See that again. Excellent! Excellent! Go ahead and do that one more time. What’s
that feel like to you?
Tony Adragna: It’s different.
Mike Merchent: Different?
Tony Adragna: Yup.
Mike Merchent: Okay. Can you, assign a label to it? Can you repeat that? Tony Adragna: I think so.
Mike Merchent: Okay. Let me see you do that. There you go. Check your feet. Don’t
get too wide. Don’t bend your knees too much. You just let your head move over
your left leg just a little bit. There you go. Okay. Now Tony, I can’t tell you what that
feels like. But I can tell you that what you’re doing is putting you in the right road.
Okay? Eventually you’ll be able to say you know, it feels like this. or maybe that’s
not how you’ll do it. Maybe just do gravitate right to it, you won’t have any problem.
So people might feel on their big toe, some people might feel in their hips, some
people might feel in their knee. I can’t tell you what to feel, but I can tell you that’s
pretty good position.
Tony Adragna: Okay.
Mike Merchent: Okay now. I’m gonna show you a drill, and in this drill, I’m gonna
show you how to isolate really the pivot, your engine, and we’ll work on how your
body moves without a golf club, you know, and a ball. Okay, take that club. Put it
behind your back in your elbows. I’m gonna do this with you, okay? You just watch
me do it the first time. Okay. We’ll put the ball down on the ground. Or some keys,
or anything to simulate a ball position okay? I’m gonna take my stand and move my
feet about shoulder width. Alright? Now, from this position here, I’m gonna bend to
the ball. From my hips, not my knees. Slightly bending my knees. Now you can see
my knees are bend down much are they?
Tony Adragna: M-hm.
Mike Merchent: I’m bending from my hip sockets. That’s how you get to the ball.
Okay? This is your position one. This is called, your address position. Now, from
position one to position two, in this particular case, you’re gonna move your weight
to your left foot, okay? So you’re gonna take the part of the club over your right,
you’re gonna move it at, or slightly behind the ball position. And here’s what I’d like
you to focus on. I’d like you to focus on that weight predominantly on your left foot.
Okay? And you wanna hold this from three to five seconds. And then from here,
you’re gonna shift your weight to your right foot. Uncurling your hips, then point this
part of the club at or slightly behind the ball. Okay? This is impact. And then from
here, gonna continue to rotate on up and through where your body is straight up
and down, this is your finish.
Tony Adragna: Okay.
Mike Merchent: One two three and four. Hold each position from three to five
seconds. Okay? Alright. Feet about shoulder width. A little closer, there you go. Fist
up. When your fist are up, pulls shoulders back, doesn’t it?
Tony Adragna: Yup.
Mike Merchent: Okay, that forces you to bend from your hips. Okay, so you gonna
bend from your hips a little more. There you go. That’s position one, that’s your
address position.
Tony Adragna: Kike Merchent: And from one to two, take the club here. Point it at or slightly behind
the ball. Can I ask yourself a question? Can I pick up my right foot? Drive your
weight in my right foot.
Tony Adragna: Not much.
Mike Merchent: And then from there, take this part of the club. Point it at or slightly
behind the position, of the ball. Put that right there, now I want you to flatten that
right foot. There you go. And then rotate on up and through, Hold that right there.
Flatten this right foot. There you go. And let’s start that all over again. Okay, one
two. Hold that there. Flatten your left foot. There you go. Three and four. There you
go. Let’s do that again. One, two. Hold that right there. Pick your right foot above
the ground. See how much you shift it to your left foot?
Tony Adragna: M-mm
Mike Merchent: Okay, let’s do that again. This is what you need to focus on, out of
this drill, out of the four segments of this drill, the second segment is what I want
you to really focus on. Okay? You do it slow enough that you control the motion.
Okay, go ahead and show me. Now shoulder width on your feet. There you go. One,
now from one to two, I want you to shift your weight early into your left hip. So shift
into your left hip. Point club at the ball. Hold that right there. Flatten this left foot.
Don’t shift your weight back to your right foot when you do that. There you go.
Perfect! And now shift it to your right foot. And all up and through. Okay, one more
time and I’ll gonna help you out here a little bit.
Tony Adragna: Okay
Mike Merchent: Okay, just shift a little bit to your left foot. Point club at the ball.
Keep that left foot on the ground. Okay, now shift to your right foot. Hold that there.
And then on up and through. There you go. Now just go ahead and relax. That’s
called the elbow drill. Go ahead and take the club in from behind your back. We’re
gonna work primarily on your pivot through that drill right there. It’s a little crude
right now, but in about two or three days, if you do this for five to ten minutes a
day, next time you come see me, we’ll refine it. Next time we’ll refine it even more
to the point where you can do that and not even think about it. Then we’ll take that
motion that you’re creating in the elbow drill and we’ll implement it into your swing,
where you’re hitting the ball.
Tony Adragna: Okay.
Mike Merchent: Okay?
Tony Adragna: Yup.
Mike Merchent: That’s how we’re gonna build that swing over the winter time. So
when you come out next spring, you’re gonna break a hundred.
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