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April 21 2012

1:00 PM

On the Mark: Dig it out of the dirt

The Valero Texas Open in San Antonio has seen a dichotomy of scores through two rounds.  The first round saw a 9-under par 63 posted and the second round was paced by a couple of rounds of 65.  On the other side of the coin, the two-round cut fell at 4 over which, outside of The Masters, is the highest two-round cut this year.
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Immelman
The lesson we can learn from this week comes from one of Texas’s favorite golfing sons: Ben Hogan.  Hogan coined many a quotable phrase and penned one of the most influential golf instruction books, Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.  This book has empowered many golfers, including me, and as a result I feel like I need to pass on a lesson from one of the greatest golfers from the great state of Texas. The first lesson from Hogan is in reference to the quality of your swing and I quote the master: “The ultimate judge of your swing is the flight of the ball.”  In other words, beautiful is as beautiful does and aesthetics amount to absolutely nothing if the ball does not perform as desired.  Remember this when you video and analyze your swing.  No matter what you see on the video, the real lesson is given by the flight of the ball.  Bear that in mind during your analysis. The second lesson from Ben Hogan is given in his explanation of how he figured out the nuances of his golf swing.  Hogan stated that he “ dug the answers out of the dirt”.  You too can do so as the dirt, or the divot hole that you leave in the ground, hides a lot of information that pertains to your swing. In summary, the direction of the divot illustrates the direction of your swing path at the base of the arc.  If the divot point to the left (for righties) the path is outside-to-in.  Conversely if the divot points to the right then the path is excessively inside-to-out.  The location of the divot can tell you where the base of your swing is located and how your weight shift through impact is working – a divot behind the center of the stance shows a lack of forward weight shift and too shallow an approach.  A divot that is located past the center of the swing (on the target side) shows that the weight shift is too aggressive and that the approach is too steep. The depth of the divot can also tell you how steep the angle of your approach is and how much the leading edge of the club is pointing downwards at contact.  A deep divot shows a steep approach and a thin divot shows a shallow approach.  A divot that starts square and thins toward a triangular shape at its end typically shows excessive clubface “flipping” as a result of excessive hand action through impact.  A divot which is deep towards the toe end shows a shaft angle through impact that is too vertical and weak. Just for the record, an ideal divot is about the size and shape of a Dollar bill; it is no deeper than the width of your finger, and it points toward the target. So, dig the answers out of the dirt, pay attention to your divot pattern and judge your swing’s quality by the flight of the golf ball.  Just like Ben Hogan did… Good luck!
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