My Interview with Virgil Herring on Golf Talk America (Archive)

This is an interview that I did with Virgil on 104.5 thezone where we discuss the biggest myth in putting and also Tiger Woods and Chris Como. Mind you,this was in December of last year so don’t beat me up too bad if Tiger doesn’t make it back but I am still optimistic. I hope you enjoy! and leave your comments at the bottom.

I Want To Talk To You About Your Flare (not flair)

As I strive to learn more about the golf swing and ultimately help my students play better, I often turn to my golf pro friends through my social media connections. Whether it is one of the many groups that I am in on Facebook or my favorite way to exchange ideas, So I was curious about what everyone thought about FOOT FLARE or the positioning of the feet at address and how it impacted a golfers swing. As I write this post I will tell you that I don’t have all the answers but experience and reasearch have their place because I can tell you what has worked for me as I will give you my opinion on this subject and give you some options that might help. But I want to share with you first what my colleagues answered when I posed the question: How much foot flare (with both feet) do you teach and feel is important and why? Here is what I got:

mikesparkspgamike sparks

@golfgurutv depends on body type. Barrel chested unflexible person needs more right foot flare to get behind the ball
andrewmarrgolfAndrew Marr, PGA

@golfgurutv yes – encourages more pivot and takes pressure off joints – not sure there is a standard but

@golfgurutv for golfers with average hip mobility, feet flared 20-30* with narrower stance works best. Reduces knee and back stress
golfwithgregGreg Baresel

@golfgurutv 15 to 20 degrees. Stability and rotation.
Sara_PGASara Dickson, PGA

@golfgurutv was just at Stack & Tilt academy 2 days ago. Always about 30* w/ lead foot & we also increased my back foot from little to 20*
Sara_PGASara Dickson, PGA

@golfgurutv Front foot flare allows hip slide. Back foot flare helps hip rotation on Bs and for me slower body rotation on Ds for faster pa4
mattdgolfMatt Diederichs

@Sara_PGA @golfgurutv Less lateral shear force on knee joints IMO as well. Big difference!
BradReddingGolfBrad Redding

@golfgurutv OK back to original question. Trail foot square lead foot flair towards target.
So it seems that most are in favor of some foot flare. 10 to 30 degrees seems to be the consensus on the front foot. The back foot seemas to be mixed a bit.Some want it square and some flared.  So here is how I see it. I would love to hear from more coaches and players with their opinions as I am just trying to learn what is the best way for the player. From my experience:
1. One of the most consistent swing errors that I see is the trail hip moving lateral in the backswing (sometimes even moving the weight to the outside of the rear shoe). This can cause you to limit your shoulder rotation and throw off your timing and sequence in the downswing. It often happens when the player is trying to keep their hips still (X Factor). With a limited shoulder turn, your hands/arms and the club cannot get deep (more behind you) enough to have a chance to returning the club on plane or from the inside without a huge plane shift.
2. Secondly, I see so many golfers that have been drilled into their heads the importance of turning through the downswing that they don’t have enough lateral slide toward to target to allow the hands/arms club shaft to drop to the inside enough. They spin the body, keep their weight back too long and end up cutting across the ball. I call these players, “BACK SIDED SPIN DOCTORS”
So how will foot flare help these problems and why?
I would suspect that it has a lot to do with knee, hip and ankle mobility for sure so this should be checked. I work with som many golfers that have had knee and ankle injuries and foot positioning is crucial for these folks.
RIGHT FOOT FLARE: Angling your rear foot out 10 to 20 degrees will increase your ability to extend your rear leg and rotate your hips more. More hip rotation will increase your shoulder rotation. If you don’t think you turn your shoulders enough, check this and you will see what i mean. The right knee will change flexion on the backswing. Look at any good player and you will see this. I didn’t say straighten but change, very important. If you try to keep your right knee flexed and don’t let your hips turn……Unless you are extremely hypermobile….I would expect you to shoot somewhere in the low 200’s.

Both Feet Square "Blocked"

SQUARE FOOT: You will see golfers with this back foot position and you can do it if you have good hip/knee/ankle mobility. It is easier to roll to the outside of your rear foot with your weight in this position so be careful.

LEAD FOOT FLARE:Probably the most important foot position in the golf swing: Teachers like Mac O’Grady

Lead Flare back Square

and many others have spoken of the importance of left foot flare. So what benefit will you have by flaring your foot 10-30 degrees.

1. It allows for the hips to slide laterally longer in the downswing which slows down the shoulder rotation (keeps you spin doctors at bay). This allows time to drop the club to the inside much easier. So If you are a cut across slicer, you probably need more slide and less turn for sure.
2. It takes pressure off of the left knee as it allows the knee to get over or slightly outside the ankle joint before starting to straighten (or post)……Does Tiger Woods come to mind? His new more centered pivot requires more hip and knee slide toward the target which is easier on his bad knee…hmmmm? And he has more foot flare as well.  Less injury to the knees and ankles can’t be bad, right?
BOTH FEET FLARED = DUCK STANCE (best of both worlds)

The Duck Stance "My recommendation"


I see so many of my students that start with a square lead foot and pick it up and turn their toes toward the target and wonder why….Because it should have been there to begin with.
When you are watching football this weekend, pay close attention to the position of the place kickers lead foot and how that affects his ability to slide forward, swing his leg from the inside and turn his hips through the strike.
Ok, so that’s my take on foot flare. Would love to hear what you think as I am trying to learn and the more I look at players on the PGA tour the more different everyone looks so we need to make some sense of it all. Until then…..
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See you on the lesson tee at Carmel,

Tiger Woods: What is wrong with Greensboro? Get back on the horse!

Is golf the same without Eldrick? I don’t think so. Many reporters are saying that golf is healthy and in good hands with all of the great young players that are visible in the game right now and I agree to an extent?? We need Tiger to get back to contending in golf tournaments and put some excitement back into golf. We look to Rory, Matteo, Ryo and Ricky to save golf and it just isn’t going to happen yet. It is just not their time. I love these kids (especially Rory and Ricky) but how many tournaments have they won? 2? and I know one was a US Open and I appreciate that but it takes time build a career and I think they will both win plenty. There is not a day that goes by that one of my students asks me “What is wrong with Tiger?” or what do you think is going on and here is my take on things.

1.  We have been spoiled by his past performances (2000-2001) because we wouldn’t have expected any other player to do much better in his last two tournaments after such a layoff from injury. No one is exempt from laying off and getting their game back, not even the best. It takes time and quality reps.

2. Tiger needs to play every week! I am disappointed that he said that he would play Greensboro if he didn’t play well at the PGA to try to play in the playoffs and he didn’t. I think he was disappointed with his performance but he needs some consistency in his schedule…I dont care if he plays the Nationwide tour, he needs to play his way through this slump (yea I said it).

3. I know he is going through swing changes and everyone wants to blame Sean Foley for the wreckage but let’s get serious. No one could single-handedly screw up Tigers swing. He has been to plenty of swing coaches over the years and has managed to come out a winner. The golf club hasn’t changed and his talent will always win out. I am not saying that I agree with the direction that Foley’s going (that is for another blog) but C’mon man. He isn’t giving him putting lessons (I wish I had 30 minutes with him on the putting green…once again another blog)

4. Tiger needs to get back to the beginning when he played some lesser tournaments and just played golf. It is good to see that he is going to play the Frys tournament because that is what he needs. He is in a different place mentally and needs to get his confidence back and the only way to do it is to play through it. He is not good enough to play a limited schedule and pick and choose.

5. He needs to wear a white belt more often (oh yeah I said it JR)…….he plays better when he wears it.

Here is a short piece by Jason Sobel from the Golf Channel on his upcoming tournament:

The latest news about Tiger Woods competing in the Open should come as a complete surprise.

No, not the fact that he’s playing a Fall Series event; he’s contended for a while now that he needs more “reps” late in the year. And not the fact that it’s the, either; on a challenging golf course in his native California, it makes as much, if not more, sense than returning to the scene of his first career victory in Las Vegas or his second career win at Disney.

Instead, the biggest shock is that Woods announced the move on his personal website on Aug. 29, more than a month before the tournament will be played from Oct. 6-9.

After all, other than a major, WGC event or one of his own tournaments, this is the earliest he’s committed to an event in years.

Other than that, we should’ve have expected this announcement.

After U.S. Presidents Cup team captain Fred Couples first said he would almost certainly add Woods to the roster as a wildcard pick, he then concluded that he wanted Woods to play again prior to the competition. Well, Couples wasn’t coming up with that idea on his own. The guess here is that he knew Woods was planning to compete in a Fall Series event and made his claim knowing his wish was going to come true anyway.

Political reasons aside, this is a smart move. At the root of the Fall Series, its reason for existing is giving those who didn’t perform well in the regular season final chances to earn money, world ranking points and a trip to the winner’s circle. Woods has struggled with all three this year, failing to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs in his injury-shortened eight-start season, so getting another chance to tee it up leaves him as just another of those guys trying to salvage his season.

After that, he’ll play in an outing at Pebble Beach that will help raise money for his foundation, will do some corporate appearances in Asia before heading to the Australian Open then the Presidents Cup.

It’s not the usual late-season schedule for a guy with 71 career victories and 14 majors, but then again, this hasn’t been a usual season, either.

Peeps: Agree or Disagree with anything? Leave your comments in the comment section below about anything. I also welcome “Ask the Guru” questions” as well

Have a great golfing day,


Rory Mcilroy: Golfs Next Star wins first major: How did he do it?

iron swing

I first heard of Rory when he was 16 and was playing in European tour events and making cuts. A curly haired, freckled face kid. Looking more like Howdy Doody than an athletic icon, McIlroy has grown and matured into a world beater. I followed Rory around the back nine at Quail Hollow as he shot 62 to win the Wachovia Championship going away. As he faced a 40 footer on 18 with a couple of shot lead, he took no time and knocked it in like it was a five footer in a practice round. I saw the same look in his eyes this week as he destroyed the best of what the golf world has to offer by eight shots….and he left a few out there which is scary. As we watch these twenty something golfers come up through the ranks, Rory is by far the most talented and seems to be able to handle the pressure of Championship golf. As a coach, it is interesting to see how everyone marvels at the swing or technique of the hottest players going. Just like in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, we all wanted to swing like Tiger and I guarantee we loved to compare our students to Mr. Woods swing because he was playing better than anyone in the world for a unbelieveable extended time. (now he has changed it 3 times?) Would you have taught your students to swing like Jim Furyk if he would have been so dominant? hmmm? Well? So now we all want Rorys swing and what is not to like? He has great basics, athleticism, hits all the right positions, flow and power. But this is the same guy that missed several cuts in the past at big events and collapsed at this past April’s Masters, right. So I think aside from his wonderful golfing motion, first class short game and putting…It is the mental maturity and attitude that allowed him to stay out of his own way throughout the U.S. Open and win going away. I love the press conferences and learn so much about a player by listening close to what they say and how they say it. Rory mentioned (and was asked many times so he had no choice) about Tiger Woods. He said he thought a lot about what Tiger would do (2000 Open) which helped him keep his fire even when he had a big lead. This was very apparent when he got so upset after making a bogey on the 17th even though he had a huge lead but that is how you have to play in that situation. Tiger’s goal in the 2000 Open was to go bogey free even though he had a huge lead. He played a tournament against himself, set mini 3 hole goals which is what Rory did and it helped keep him in the moment up till the last putt. So we will see how this plays out as one major is just a start a legendary career. A lot of great players have won only a single major.   So lets not start comparing this young phenom to Tiger or Jack until we see some consistency over a long period of time as golf is a very fickle game and can come and go as you all know. Let Rory enjoy his unbelievable performance and be a young man who I already admire so much, not as much by his golf game but they way he has handled failure and now how he will handle success. His dad should be very proud of the man that he has become. Wise beyond his years for sure.

I am sure that I was not alone as I stood in my man room and chanted,”Let’s Go Rory” as he simply was spectacular for 4 rounds in our major championship. The U.S. players need to take notice. Who is going to step up and stop him? Only time will tell. I am so fortunate to have been able to watch Jack Nicklaus at the end of his run, Tiger Woods in his prime and now Rory McIlroy starting his.

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See you on the lesson tee,


Playful Learning Part 2 – Teaching vs. Coaching

In the midst of another P.G.A. Merchandise show, I think for those who don’t participate just don’t know what they are missing. I enjoy seeing the new products and gadgets but that is not why I attend. I make the trip to Orlando to network with other professionals and friends in hopes to find a few nuggets or ideas that will help me guide my students when I get back. My students can’t wait for me to get back because I always have some great information and stories to tell that will enhance their golf games. Information is not just going to jump in your lap. It is not going to knock you down and crawl all over you. You must be a seeker and sometimes it takes courage to learn something new because we are all afraid of being wrong. For all you zen lovers, “You must be an empty cup”. I have attended the top 100 Golf Magazine party with my boss for the last 7 years and I always set a goal to meet a new teacher that I admire and be prepared to ask an intelligent question when you get that opportunity, because it could be a small window. This takes courage (and maybe a few glasses of wine,shh!). Your networking moment may happen when you least expect it. Here is a story: Last year an editor friend of mine asked if I would stop by the Cricket of Arms” pub for a pint because he wanted me to meet his good friend, Craig Shankland. For those of you who don’t know Craig, he is a legend in the teaching and playing game. Top 50 teacher and just a great guy.  In the first five minutes he could tell how passionate about coaching that I was and he was gracious enough to share valuable information about his teaching and great stories about his good friend, Moe Norman which was priceless. We talked for about 2 hours over a few pints of Guiness and it  was awesome. I shared with him my goals and this was the two pieces of advice that I received:

1) Keep writing as much as possible because that is what keeps your ideas fresh and your brain thinking and growing.

2)Pay attention: MAKE YOUR PLAYERS MULTI-DIMENTIONAL (He is very old school and teaches many LPGA players). He said that you have to be able to adjust to every lie and can’t fall in love with just one swing plane. He doesn’t use video very much and takes his students out on the course for the majority of the lessons to greater prepare for all of the different shots that make up a round of golf.  (The Ultimate In Coaching)

The time I spent with Mr. Shankland was the highlight of my trip for sure so keep your eyes open for opportunities for learning and growing. I will be forever greatful for the time that he spent with a nobody teacher like me. I hope that someday I can be that person sharing all that I have learned to a young, hungry professional.

To succeed as coaches we must be versitile and know when to teach and when to coach.

Here are some quotes from Tiger Woods. Maybe he needs to reread these to get back to the days when he was free to self-discover.

“My lie dictates the shot I will play”

“I always listen to my body”

“Some days when I warm up I am hitting the ball low, other days I am hitting the ball high. some days the ball is drawing, other days it is fading. i just play what i am doing that day”

“Today when I practice I like to play games-in fact I like to practice more than play on the course. I still try lots of different things, just like I did with my Pop”

“We always practiced together seeing who could make the most 5 foot putts”

“As a child the club and the ball became my playmate”

“Ultimately golf is a journey-full of learning and discovery”

“On normal shots, I swing 75% of my power, on longer shots I swing at 90%. If I go all out, I do not make solid contact-which is most important.”

“There are no shortcuts- golf requires patience and perseverance, with a yearning for learning. Accepting the fact that it is a game of ups and downs and learning every time you play”

“when I play-it is almost as if I get out-of-the-way and just let it happen. I let it happen, I do not make it happen.”

“I won 12 times in the year 2000, including 3 majors and I only remember hitting one shot I would call perfect. It was the 3 wood on #14 in the third round of the British Open at St. Andrews. AS with every shot I attempt, I visualize that ball flight and the shot turned ou exactly s I had planned. Moments like that stay fresh in my mind, providing a positive image for future reference.”

“I will always be respectful and gracious to opponents-but I want to win, to beat you by a lot, to beat you bad.

I look forward to hearing about your P.G.A. Show learning moments. What are you waiting for……GO FOR IT!

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See you on the lesson tee,


Sean Foley Article: Is He right for Tiger?

I apologize for the last post. I hooked up the link and it didn’t work. Here is a little insight on Sean Foley and his potential work with Tiger. Let me know what you think. I look forward to your feedback on world number 1. Have a great Labor Day weekend and I will be back soon, hopefully with my golf channel video.

See you on the lesson tee,


The Open Championship Preview and Predictions

Oh, the old course at St. Andrews. It is in the top 5 of my bucket list of places to play for sure. Not because of its lavish beauty or scenic views but because of its history. As a student of the game, you must have aspirations of playing here someday and I am very disappointed that I haven’t been able to make it over the pond yet. I have seen it so many times on television that I feel like I know it so well. How I yearn to walk out of the historic club house and down to the first tee and stripe a fairway metal down the fairway, narrowly avoiding the burn in front of the green. I want to take an aggressive route off the tee and just miss the principals nose. I want to stand on the “road hole #17” and take it over the “O” and find the fairway. And lastly, try to drive the green and hopefully not get stuck in the valley of sin just short of the green. If I do, I would use the putter and play the low shot as Constantina Rocca did some years ago. Someday I will do this. So as we approach the championship, I thought I would give you a few things to look for and my predictions on who I think will play well. There is nothing better than waking up to championship golf, am I right? So here goes………………….

1. The weather looks bad for the week, so we will see a lot of wind and rain which will make the scoring very difficult. I expect to see a lot of knock downs and punch shots that will be played low to the ground. Here are the keys to a knock down and I will shoot a video for you later in the week.

1. Take at least 2 clubs more than the yardage to ensure that you won’t swing too hard.

2. Place 60 percent of your weight on your forward foot as you would a pitch shot.

3. Even though this is a shorter swing, make sure you complete your shoulder turn to the top.

4. As you rotate through impact, bow your left wrist toward the target to take loft off of the club.

5.  Finish low and abbreviated to keep the flight down

########KEY: Swing 80%……The biggest error that amateurs make is to swing too hard which imparts more spin and makes the ball go too high.

Here are my picks for the 2010 Open Championship

1. Tiger Woods: Let’s face it, he is bound to win soon and he always plays great winning the last 2 held at St. Andrews.

2. Rory McIlroy: He is used to bad weather and has never shot over 69 in a tournament round at the old course

3. Justin Rose: How can you not put him on the list. Maybe the hottest golfer on the planet…..enough said

4. Lee Westwood: It could be his time and he has been so close.

5. Franscesco Molinari: His brother won last week, could be his turn this week

Euro dark horse: Shane Lowry

US dark horse: Steve Stricker…….anyone who can make that many birdies you have to put on the list

It will be a grind fest for sure and I look forward to seeing the replays as I will be on the lesson tee for most of it…….

See you on the lesson tee and don’t forget to breathe,


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