Golf Swing – Sweet Spot Control

February 8th, 2011 by John Graham Leave a reply »

Sweet Spot ControlThe other day, I had a student of mine, Dave Mon (@monb4v) asked me a question that I thought would make for a good question to the masses.  The question had to do with how do you teach someone to hit it on the sweet spot all the time.  I put the question out on twitter land to see what kind of responses I would get.  I don’t think I framed the question exactly the way that I should have because most the answers came back about how to mark the face or the ball similar to the picture. BTW, the picture shows a driver covered with sunscreen and an impact.

What I really wanted to know was, how do the teachers out there teach their students to sense the sweet spot during the swing.  Maybe, that isn’t something as teachers we should be spending our time on.  I knew before asking the question that all the TGM aficionados would bring up pressure point #3.  Pressure point #3 is defined as “The first joint of the right hand index finger where it touches the Clubshaft.” from my copy of The Golfing Machine 7th Edition.  This particular place is used to monitor the feel of the sweet spot during the swing and I think mostly during the downswing. (AI’s, please correct me if I’m wrong).

I also heard a little from the Stack and Tilt crowd about low point control. Again, another idea I had heard before but it dealt again with impact and not mid swing. Surely, we can work backwards saying that good low point control means good sweet spot control during the swing.

But that wasn’t really what I was hoping to learn.  I wanted to know how other coaches taught sweet spot control during the swing.  I received a bunch of drills about using some tees as a gate and other similar ideas. Drills I have used with success but again that is about impact.  Most of the things I heard were about teaching the student what solid impact felt or sounded like.  My favorite drill came from Shaun Ferguson. He told me of an exercise he does with his students where he uses a dry erase marker to write the numbers 1 on the toe, 2 on the sweet spot and 3 on the heel.  He would then ask his student to purposely try to hit an area of the club so the impact would erase the desired number.  I had never heard this drill before and thought it was excellent.

I’ve always been blessed with the ability to hit the ball solid very often. Not always where I want it to go but in the center.  I’ve always had a very good sensation for where the sweet spot was at all times. I told my student that all I feel is a stick with the sweet spot on it. This certainly goes to confirm the feelings suggested in The Golf Machine for the longitudinal center of gravity.  It was this point (the club COG) that I actually tried to move around and then run into the ball.  It may sound strange, but that’s how I learned.  I never had any instruction and learned it on my own by watching and feeling.  I hit many golf balls with my eyes closed focusing hard on the feeling of the sweet spot in my hands.  Is this a sensation that others work on?

I always preached and taught my students to identify the feeling of the sweet spot without having to run that spot into something to identify it.  It has served me and my students well. I wonder though if it is something I am spending too much time on or that it is unnecessary.  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this issue.

How do you teach your students to locate the sweet spot in their hands and while the club is swinging?

As a player, how do you identify it and describe it to someone else?

Please share this post with others on twitter and facebook by using the buttons provided so we can all learn from the shring of information and ideas.

JG

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23 comments

  1. Great Post.

    i too have used the 1,2,3 to mark clubface and use ink on the face to locate sweetpoint. Closed eyes also.

    however, teaching it. not sure. have always focused on shaft and clubhead which indeirectly helps locate ball in sweetspot?

    i’ll be interested to see other ideas.!

  2. Sara_PGA says:

    The demand for a sweetspot blog was there and JG responded! Great article here! Just thinking out loud here: Perhaps after taking out PP3 and impact to focus on the sweetspot during the whole swing, feeling the sweetspot would then mean feeling a balanced clubface. The sweetspot has to do with COG. If the clubface is balanced (or square to it’s path) then the COG remains in the middle of the clubface. This, is also where the sweetspot is located. That being said, perhaps helping students feel a “square to the path” clubface will also give them awareness of the sweetspot and where it is during the swing.

  3. Nice article John! I thought I might have gotten a mention thought :) I like the 123 thing but I’m a bit afraid that focusing on sweet spot will result in me ignoring the rest of my swing (or hack if you know me).

  4. John Graham says:

    Sara,

    I’m not sure if I understand what you mean about a balanced clubface. I think the sweetspot is only square to the plane for small period of time (depending on you system for pattern development) and trying to get it to stay “squared to the path” might limit a bunch of other things. It seems clear that you know what I’m talking about so I think we agree.

    I’m just not sure so please tell me if I misunderstood.

    JG

  5. John Graham says:

    Dave,

    Yea, I guess I could have thrown you in there and will make that change soon.

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It’s more of an awareness than focus. Kind of like driving. We don’t really focus on things off the road but we are aware of things.

    JG

  6. Sara_PGA says:

    JG,
    By a balanced clubface I am basically envisioning one that is square. For instance if the clubface were very closed, the toe would feel heavy. Thus the clubface would not feel balanced, or comfortable. Does this clarify?
    And I also see how the sweetspot is only square for a short amount of time… Good point there. As you can see through this and my tweets, this topic has got me thinking! JG aka “the thought provoker” strikes again! I hate it but I love it, ugh!

  7. John Graham says:

    Sara,

    Yea, sorry about that. Welcome to my world. Wish I could turn it off sometimes but that is what my winter is for. =) It’s strange that the way I think and the way I teach are very different. Very few players would want this kind of information but I want to be ready if they do.

    Ok. I think I understand but I don’t agree. Depending on what you consider square, I would bet that the tow should feel heavy for most of the swing. In fact, that is one of the feelings I used to identify where the sweetspot is. If I know where the outer most dimensions are, than I can determine where the middle is.

    I have a couple questions for you, but I’ll ask them on twitter.

    JG

  8. Matt says:

    JG,

    This question kept me up at night. I’m still looking for a better solution…..will keep you posted.

    MW

  9. Sara_PGA says:

    OK I am heading to Twitter! Yes I agree, I think and teach (communicate) much, much differently. But you are right, when the player comes along who wants the explanation, you need to have it… and be able to explain it well. Hence why these questions always keep the wheels turning!

  10. John Graham says:

    Matt,

    Sorry I’m hurting your REM sleep.

    Please keep me posted and thanks for reading.

    JG

  11. Jason Sutton says:

    Great question. I am constantly looking at the contact point and listening to contact as well but never really spent much time teaching specifically sweet spot control. I teach shaft control and club face awareness and control that leads to center contact. I think it is important to make the student aware of where they are hitting it for sure, just like the Shankar that thinks they are hitting it off the toe. Balanced club face? Square to what, I’m not sure? I just help the player change the factors that are leading to poor contact. Start with impact knowledge and work back if necessary with short swings until they can feel what allows them to hit it on sweetspot. Would love hear more about this if you fond out, thanks John. Thought provoking as usual
    Jason

  12. Eric says:

    John,

    Two things. One, I like for students to feel the lagging sweet spot by putting my finger on the sweet spot and having the student pull the club into impact while I resist. This gives them a better sensation than just lagging the club or the hosel.

    Secondly, (this is what I practice) I practice with my old Titleist blades that are far less forgiving than my AP2′s. Players who grew up with cavity-back, oversized, perimeter weighted clubs have never really needed to feel the importance of the sweet spot.

    Great website, John. I really enjoy your posts.

    Eric Kennedy

  13. John Graham says:

    Eric,

    I love that drill and use it all the time. Thanks for reminding me.

    Do you think using blades allows you to feel the sweetspot better during the swing or at impact?

    Thanks for the kind words.

    JG

  14. Eric says:

    John,

    I’m pretty sure I can’t “feel” the sweet spot until impact, but I could be wrong. Using blades to practice gives me great feel for impact in the same way using a ball peen hammer takes more focus than a mallet to hit a nail. I always liked the Dave Pelz clips that he used on putters that shrunk the sweet spot. It just makes someone focus harder. I’m fairly certain that larger clubheads (on irons and woods) are one of the main factors in increased clubhead speed. There is no “real” fear of a misshit.

    Although it is funny to read all the D-Plane debates surrounding gear effect that begin “assuming a perfect strike…” Kind of a big assumption, huh?

  15. John Graham says:

    Eric,

    I think it is one of the biggest assumptions there is. Give it a try and see if you can’t feel it during the swing. Just like that little circle of the ball peen hammer.

    That’s what you’re swinging.

    JG

  16. roydmcavoy says:

    Sweetspot conrol is more about setup distance from the ball. Adjust stance relative to the base plane line in small increments until the ball is onthe center of the clubface. Exception: Driver = address with ball toward the toe. Why? As the driver strikes the ball it’s off the ground – the plane is slightly flatter thus the club will rise and now be on the the sweetspot. “Impact preview” will also help train proper clubface direction & the “feel” of hand positions for solid contact.

    RDM

  17. John Graham says:

    Roy,

    Are you saying that a proper set up guarantees a sweetspot strike?

    JG

  18. John says:

    The method I am using to find the sweet spot on the club is I put masking tape on the face, set up and swing the club. I watch the ball path, then check the club face. If the imprint is near the toe, I know I was set up too far from the ball. If the ball imprint is on the heel of the face, I know I was too close.

    I also look to see if the ball mark is high on the face or low. That gives me an idea of how far forward or back in my stance the tee must be and how high I need to tee the ball.

    When the ball flight is consistently “straight” that is the set up I use. I know I can’t do this on the course, but by practicing with the setup, it will come easier on the course.

  19. John Graham says:

    John,

    Thanks for sharing your plans.

    A couple things to be careful of.

    There isn’t a direct one to one relationship between distance from ball and impact location.

    I’d be careful basing all of your set up on that one factor.

    Same goes for ball position. Many variables involved.

    The goal of this post was to encourage players to try and feel the sweetspot during the swing, not just at impact.

    Try and get a feel for where the sweetspot is while the club is swinging as well.

    Best of luck.

    JG

  20. John says:

    I have used tape on the driver face as a way to learn how to set up properly so the center of the club face strikes the ball.

    I set up, then swing. I watch ball flight, then check the face of the club. If ball mark is on toe, I set up a touch closer. If near heel, I step back a touch.

    I work on this until my setup results with a majority of ball marks in center of club face.

  21. miji says:

    Run a line from PP#3 to the center of the clubface = Longitudinal Center of Gravity (LOC). Set ball position such that (the envisioned) LOC touches golf ball (you decide which “dimple” it will touch-trajectory control). Go to impact fix …this will open face slightly which is fine for a (planned) horizontal hinge, otherwise close face increasingly as you play longer clubs more forward for angled hinging (futher forward=more “layback” at impact). This method will ensure (sweetspot contact) x (time) = max. Nonetheless a “piece of tape” was the WRONG answer to this question. Another way to learn: Find a player with a “Pro- boring- wedge- trajectory”….by necessity, they will have learned sweetspot control

  22. John Graham says:

    I would also agree that using tape and impact location may not be the best way to determine set up position.

    I don’t see how any set up procedure even with adding impact fix will ensure sweet spot contact.

    Way too many other variables involved.

    However, I do like the last thing you mentioned.

    JG

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