As a golf coach, I often get asked about training aids. Which is the best on the market?
Players are always looking for a quick fix to improve their slice, hook, body pivot, ball striking, etc. There are a lot of good training aids on the market. There are also bad ones.
My suggestion for players: save your money and use your surroundings. The best training aid is what Mother Nature gives us at the golf course or practice facility, the undulation of the ground beneath the feet.
Golfers can improve many facets of the full swing by using four different slopes: uphill, downhill, ball beneath your feet, and ball above your feet.
Each slope can help with a multitude of different issues.
Below, I have listed some of the most common issues I see in players, and will provide the correct slope conditions to help turn a weakness into a strength!
1. Ball above feet: This slope helps players that have issues with the following: slicing, casting, angle of attack, losing angles (body dip toward ball), poor upper body rotation in the backswing and ball striking. I use this drill most often for the player that has problems with a slice. The slice is one of the most common ball flights I see out of the average golfer. One of the biggest reasons a player hits a slice is because they have what we call a "face-path relationship issue," meaning the clubface is open to the swing path. If you're a player that has an issue similar to this you need to use this slope to your advantage. With the ball above the feet it will help the player shallow out the downswing plane, allowing for an improved ball flight. A shallower downswing plane allows the clubhead to want to move more from in to out through impact. This will allow for a straighter ball flight and added power.
2. Ball below feet: Having the ball below the feet helps players that have issues with hooking, weight distribution, early extension and tempo. Personally, I believe using this slope is best for the player that has problems making consistent contact. The biggest reason players have this problem is due to early extension in the downswing. This means you lose your posture or spine angle as you come into the impact position. The hips tend to thrust inward toward the ball and the chest pulls upward out of the shot. How many times have you topped a shot and your playing companion says "you picked your head up?" You're not picking your head up, you're actually losing your angles. If you look at great players like David Duval and Annika Sorenstam their heads were not looking at the ball at all during impact. In fact, during the downswing, their heads were already turning with their body toward the target! By having the ball below the feet it will give the player the proper feeling of maintaining spine angle. You will feel your chest cover the ball more effectively and you will become a much better ball striker.
3. Uphill lie: Practicing shots off of uphill lies can be effective for the player that has a hard time with their hip tilt, shoulder tilt, weight transfer and body pivot. Proper golf setup is extremely important to getting positive results. This lie will help you with two things: setup and body pivot. The uphill lie will force the player to have the trail shoulder and hip lower at address. The proper hip tilt helps the player load into their trail leg in the backswing and the proper shoulder tilt will give the player a better chance of taking the club back on the proper swing plane in the backswing. When working with this slope pay close attention to how the slope forces your upper body to load over the trail knee at the top of the backswing. Remember this feeling and try to recreate it in your normal swing. If you can make the proper body pivot in your backswing it will give you a better chance of making a successful downswing move.
4. Downhill lie: Using a downhill lie will help a player that has issues with lower body stability in the trail knee during the backswing, over rotation of the lower body in the backswing, level shoulder plane in the backswing, lateral sway in the takeaway and a poor weight transfer in the downswing. I use this slope often myself and it always helps me get back into correct form. When using this slope pay attention to the feeling as you begin your backswing. You will feel restriction between the lower and upper body. This means you're creating more coil, and a better coil allows for more speed and power. The second thing I use this slope for would be my weight transfer from the top of the backswing, to impact, and into my finish position. I have a problem with rotating my hips too much in the downswing, which typically makes lower body out-race my upper body. When this happens the club can get stuck behind me and it also doesn't allow my weight to fully load into my front leg at impact. This slope will force the body to want to move slightly forward as the body uncoils. It will force the player to create more speed and a consistent low point allowing for more distance and better ball striking.