DJ's End of Year Review | Swing Surgeon - Don Trahan Peak Performance Golf Swing

DJ's End of Year Review

Sat, 10/12/2013 - 12:00 -- Don Trahan

I went to work with DJ while he was going through the finals trying to secure his PGA TOUR card for next year. It was another great year of ball striking for DJ, he just had some trouble on the greens with the flat stick. I thought I'd take time and review what we've been working on for next year.

At the time of this video, the finals were still taking place, and we both thought he had a really good chance to place in the top 25 to earn an exemption to the PGA TOUR. Unfortunately, DJ had to withdraw from the last event, so he was unable to gain a spot. He'll be playing mostly on the Tour next year as a result.

Nevertheless, I'm really excited with where his game is heading. Many of you have your own opinions on DJ's swing, and you all know I've gotten on him about a few things like turning too much and going past a 3/4 backswing. Well, I'm happy to say that he's starting to get backĀ to the fundamentalsĀ of the PPGS lately, so it's going to be fun to watch how he performs going forward.

Today's video will cover everything DJ and I have been working on, with a few stories that I've just got to share with the Surge Nation. I hope you enjoy!

Keep it vertical!

The Surge

If you can't view the YouTube video above try CLICKING HERE. You must allow popups from this site for the link to work.


SODAK65's picture

Submitted by SODAK65 on

I hope DJ can get everything turned around so he can get back on the big tour. He must get his putting figured out, because these kids on the Web.Com tour are shooting in the low 60s, and par rounds won't cut it.

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

Either you are I are definitely psychic ; - ) A week or so ago I went back to basics and GBSAPS.For those who don't know? They stand for Grip/Ball position/Stance/ALIGNMENT/Posture/and Swing. One thing which surfaced quickly to help was, POSTURE! Back to correct PHLR butt out. Now I am able to swing through the ball at speed [confirmed by the 'whoosh' at and through the impact area], in balance to a perfect finish : - ) Amazing!
Towards the end of yesterday's swing session I started addressing overswinging, working on a drill to limit it. Todays video has given me further food for thought. After setting up I then set myself in the 'cactus position' then in slomo took a grip on my driver [just happened to be the club in hand, no other reason], at the address position and moved it up to the rear cactus hand. In effect a perfect top of the BUS finish. It was obvious immediately how little turn was needed to achieve this position. Today it will get more work. Awakened by revellers during the night : - ( gave me time to work out a possible drill for todays session. It is intended to use my 'neutral', weighted grip trainer to carry out the drill to start with. Being heavy and shorter it should allow me to 'skip the rock' from the top of the BUS to the top of the FUS cactus position of my left or lead hand position.
The beauty of the PPGS site and other Surgites comments is, it has started me analyzing my swing when things go sideways and quickly rectifying the problem. Previously I had struggled for decades taking one step forward and two or more back : - ( The PPGSwing has changed all that. I can never, ever thank Surge the team and all fellow Surgites who have helped me face my demons head on and improve. Nothing and I mean nothing can or ever will change my mind [stubborn Scots/Irish in me heh heh heh ; - ] PPGS is the ONLY way.
Confidence breeds confidence, as the saying goes. Back to the manual and the Basics and a better swing speed [under control] is the way to go for me.
Now then, "Rain, rain go away and come back on another day ; - )
Course waterlogged boohoo! Patience, my new friend. Hit them consistently longer and straighter where ever you are. DH's picture

Submitted by barrowcloughr@a... on

why did DJ pull out of that tournament? i seem to recall he started with 3 birdies then had a really bad run which included a triple bogey. was it sheer frustration? ive noticed that he tends to have very up and down rounds and birdies are often followed immediately by bogies.maybe stating the obvious but if he could just eliminate the bogies he;d be doing ok.

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

Thanks again Surge for your words of wisdom. I know that noodley feeling well.
This will give me something to focus on for next week, the last one of our way to short Alberta golf season.

I do tend to hit some of my best shots when the lie of the ball is difficult. I know that the only way to hit the ball cleanly from a difficult lie is to stress the athletically ready part of the setup. When the lie is a great one it's easy to get a little careless with the setup.

rlbrenner's picture

Submitted by rlbrenner on

I am 75, fairly athletic retired tennis player, took up golf ten years ago, then had two back operations, concluded by a L3,L4,L5 fusion is 2006. I have also had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders in past 5 years. My problem is a quick, short backswing, and am never sure if I am vertical enough or 3/4 enough, limited by my chronic back. Have you any suggestions on how I may get self feedback on the correct and complete backswing? I love your system and your videos.
Dr. Larry Brenner
Sugar Land, Texas

reedclfd's picture

Submitted by reedclfd on

Dr. Brenner: One of the very best ways to get instant "self-feedback" is to Get a video camera & tripod with slow-motion capability and take it with you to the range. Video yourself both face-on and down-the-line as you make actual shots with various clubs. You will instantly see what your "real" swing is like. Using the slow-motion feature, you'll be able to dissect your entire swing and compare it to the Surge's, DJ, and others here on the site. You can also compare your swing to the many photos in the manuals, etc. Also, you can send in your video to the PPGS staff and for a small fee, one of the certified instructors will look at your video and give you feedback on your swing and what you can do to improve it. I frequently video my swing to see if i'm staying within PPGS parameters. It is an excellent self-diagnostic tool. Hit 'em straight! R2

JKPassage's picture

Submitted by JKPassage on

In Surge's video re DJ, he talked about wanting to see guys whose upper torso and lower body look like they are a "solid block of ice." That was something I learned today in my round. When I felt I was reverting to a rotational swing style, I stopped and regrouped. Then, I made sure that I kept my body as quiet as possible (but athletically ready). When I did that, I had some of my best golf shots in my entire golfing life.

Granted, my shots didn't go any farther than usual (drives were still just around 180 yards), but the good thing is I never sliced a drive today. Keeping the ball in the fairway was a reason why I did so well.

I told my friend that, to me, the key to the PPGS swing is to let my arms and hands outrace my body to the ball at impact. When I did that, my shots were the best. Thanks, JKP

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Agree with your summation. What struck me even more was DJ's lead in thought to Surge around the 4 minutes mark of the conversation. Deej said that it seemed to him that if he didn't move his left shoulder after set up that he would still get "all the turn he needs" and stay out of the SBG while staying over the toe line. This along with the follow up observations of keeping the rest of the lower body quiet really struck me as an excellent point that I will key in on in the coming weeks. I know my best shots are when I don't over turn and have always gone back to the need for the wide knees 'riding the skinny horse' thought to keep still. This along with that readiness he talked about were great reminders. The other was stance width to avoid moving outside the back foot on the BUS. But for me, again it is the left shoulder revelation. Makes so much sense. If we don't allow the left shoulder to move forward the right (back) shoulder won't move back and then the arms will stay in front of the toe line and not get behind (in the SBG). as a side benefit, this will also help us get vertical.
It's the whole action re-action. Love it. Surge and in this case DJ are being so logical. Looking forward to incorporating these ideas into my set up and swing.

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

Thanks Robert, for a great observation on the left shoulder action. I watched the video and although I remembered Surge's comment, the importance of it didn't really register with me at the time. After reading your comment it took about 30 seconds for me to come up with a visualization that should help quiet the left shoulder and keep it from moving forward to much. If after setting up, I picture a brick wall in front of the left shoulder it's just enough to slow forward movement and allow more focus on the lift. Of course the shoulder still moves a little but the thought of the imaginary brick wall definitely tightens up the turn and helps keep the swing out of the SBG. I can't wait to try this at the driving range this afternoon.


RMSous's picture

Submitted by RMSous on

Hi Dave. I appreciate the vivid image of brick wall to hold back premature shoulder turn. Lately I have tried quite a different trick: as you know, leftward bump and tucking right elbow against our right side should occur simultaneously. But because that elbow movement is closer, or at least feels closer, to my shoulders, I use that movement as follows...
The instant my elbow touches my side, I can feel my arms dropping, (they are automatically pivoting downwards from my shoulder sockets) more or less in parallel with my shoulder line. I focus on keeping this shoulder-to-hands "line" stretched taut, and this not only keeps my shoulders from moving forward, it actually causes my shoulders to keep turning I backwards a bit . Now, when this "straight" line reaches about waist high, I imagine that its arrival there triggers my whole left arm to swing upward in an accelerating motion, pivoting AT THE SHOULDER SOCKET
as if my shoulder were the hub of a Ferris wheel. This arm pivot of course will cause my shoulders to turn automatically and correctly, so that I actually never have to willfully move them. There is no conscious shoulder turn at all. So in a sense, the rightward and downward movement of my arms/hand line" I imagine to be a sort of piston that first tugs my shoulders to the right, and when my waist is reached, I know it's time to swing upwards, making sure, as in every swing, from putts, to chips and pitches, wedges and full shots, the upwards motion pivots from the shoulder, rather than the club being propelled forward from the club head end (ie cast by the right hand, over the top). This pivoting of the entire assembly -- arm, hand, club --- from the shoulder, as opposed to throwing the club head at the ball has been an epiphany for me. I have read dozens of golf instructional booklets, and I have yet to see this issue dealt with clearly. To me, this is one of the deepest and most crucial secrets of the golf swing. In visual form, the closest "lesson" on this bedrock golf principle, is the video of Bobby Jones swinging in a studio in slow motion. There, it is obvious that this straight arm pivoting from the shoulder is the essence of Bobby's swing.

Sorry to rattle on Dave. But I have solved my premature shoulder turn by removing the shoulder turn and replacing it with "images" that work for me. Maybe they will work for others too.

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

These are very interesting ideas with good images. Your method would be a good topic for one of Surge's " in your own words " daily videos.

The brick wall image might be a good one for someone with an overturning problem, but not for me. In the process of trying the thought out at my local driving range, I did hit on something related to the setup that has likely been a problem for me, from day one of doing the Surge swing. My overdoing the inward turn of the right elbow when going into the master setup position may have been contributing to several swing problems. My takeaway was always a bit outside the line and there was too much tension in the right arm while doing the takeaway. When I decreased the inward turn of the elbow, the right arm softened and the whole swing felt better and produced better shots. Leave it to me to overdo a good thing!!!'s picture

Submitted by ehiebert@earthl... on

Is dj still having trouble with his back?

Lynn42's picture

Submitted by Lynn42 on

I play with a guy who is rotational and a good golfer who routinely tells me that I'm losing at least 30 yards on my driver with Surges swing. He's about 10 years younger and at least 75 yards longer than I am off the tee and occasionally hits a wayward drive. I've explained that while he may be right as far as lost distance I've gained accuracy and my body thanks me for NOT going rotational.

I routinely play 3-4 times a week with no physical issues while he can't play more than two days in a row and yes I bust his chops about He will not let up about hitting down and compressing the ball and full shoulder turns. It does get tiresome listening to it so the other day I decided I'd had enough. I said nothing and just channeled his ramblings into total focus on getting athletically ready. Btw, Surge, I played shortstop and third base in high school. ;0) Result...I parred 2 par 4s with GIRs that I never reach in 2.

I realized I was trying to be too smooth with my swing and focusing like I meant business and going after the shot, but under control, was what I was missing. Come Monday I'll see if this old hardhead really learned anthing and can repeat the lesson learned.

Very timely tip today, Surge. Thank you.

Sam Lucas's picture

Submitted by Sam Lucas on

Dr. Brenner another way to check your backswing is to cut an old club in half and regrip it. Practice the PPGS swing with a mirror in front and one in back down the swing line. I do ten practice swings daily as part of my exercise routine.

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

Sam Lucas,
A good idea. I did this yesterday with my short, heavily weighted , grip trainer. To begin with I assumed the 'cactus position' after taking my PHLR stance. Then while my rear hand was still in the cactus position, I place my forward hand on the trainer at the address position. Then the trainer was lifted up to the rear hand in slow motion. On reaching said hand it was placed on the grip. The forward hand was released back up to the cactus position. The rear hand then "skipped the rock" back through the impact area up to the finish. I too watched it in a full length mirror before my actual swing practice. It was repeated outside increasing the speed of the movement. Then it was time to swing the clubs. Starting with the driver, not the shorter clubs as previously done. From the start I felt the swing and swung the feel to very good effect. So it is likely it will be used again as a warm up practice prior to any swing session or play on the course.

boogmc's picture

Submitted by boogmc on

What a remarkably timed video, Surge!
As most of the regular Surgites on here know,I've suffer from degenerative disc disease in the lumbar section of my spine. That along with several other impairments forced me to retire a few years earlier than I had planned. I hadn't made a swing in over a year until I recently purchased the L2 putter a few weeks back. On a my first trip out with the L2, I carried my wedges with me to the range and bought a small bag of balls to justify the use of the practice green at the range. On that outing the few wedge shots I hit weren't exactly to what I thought they should be,so that got me to wondering where my swing had gone south.
Now during my hiatus,while I didn't post much, I kept up with the blog and did a lot of reading on the game. I studied both the physical side and mental side of this game we all love. When my back allowed, I did slow-mo swings and the like trying to keep from losing it altogether.
Then what is now, week before last, I went again but took my whole bag and hit a couple of balls down through my bag. What I did differently in that short session was I narrowed my stance by keeping my trailing leg centered under my armpit and reworked my ball position. The results were greatly improved except for my fairway metals and I had a few more slices with my driver than I would have liked. Like Surge says in today's daily, the front foot was the only one I moved to widen my stance as the clubs got longer. My irons were hit crisply and most were dead straight,those that weren't had a nice baby fade on them. I made a posting on this outing and asked a question about my fairway metals and both Robert Meade & Wiz gave me the answer in their answer to someone's question. Wiz told the questioner that in all likelyhood they were sliding towards the target coming down into impact and that was causing whatever problem they were having. So I did a search about "topping the ball" and noticed Surge gave that as one of the possible causes and I remembered that Doc had told me in Columbia that I had a tendency to want to "pop-tart" before the toaster was done.
Also this week, I was reading Nick Faldo's book, "Swing for a Lifetime" and though he preaches to the rotational crowd I couldn't help but notice that he used several thoughts and phrases we,Surgites, have been hearing since we first came aboard with Surge. One that sticks out at the moment,though, they were several is the " Lite club". He also adheres to the solid foundation and quiet lower body,yet wants his down swing to start from the ground up.
He likes to feel as though his down swing,our FUS, is started by his left knee, hip and up to his left shoulder. He stated that he purposely doesn't tilt his trailing shoulder but does relax and lower his right butt cheek( what does that do?,hmmm). Anyway, I know that this thing is getting long, he did mention one thing that got me thinking.He stated that sometimes when he seems to have trouble getting started and wants to stay smooth, he starts by moving his belly or his belt first and just a tad, no more than an inch.
So, I got to thinking, what's the thing that seems to give you the most trouble? A smooth start of the bump. So after I had read that earlier in the week and practicing a time or two,I decided I would try that the next time out. I also put a little bit of weight towards the ball of my feet, I felt that I might've been heel heavy. With all that and remembering Dave's last couple of dailies I went to another range this past Friday,where I had a gorgeous view of Lake Guntersville and got a small bag of balls and headed to the range.
So these are the keys I concentrated on during my pre-shot routine and set-up.
1. Wipe my mustache,mouth, chin, tug (gently) on my right earlobe & smile.
(thanks, Craig)
2. Choose my target & my intermediate target.
3. Come into the ball from 90 degrees
4. Do the Master Set-up,making sure the club butt is towards my left hip,
with two knuckles showing on my left hand,I was way to neutral (closer weak) previously and my right hand mirrored to the left.
5. Take my stance, keeping my trailing leg in line with my right armpit &
shoulder,adjust it to get the ball position I need after I get the club
the ball.
6. I waggle the club as the intro to my swing song starts,Wish it Would Rain
by the Temptations.As I begin to sing the opening word,Sunshine, my
right shoulder turns back & away just a bit. Now I do slowly sing the
opening word until I ring the bell around blue.
7. The next thing I know is I'm recoiling and relaxing watching my ball fly
towards the target.
But I know you're suffering reading this discourse, so here's what
happens while I'm not even thinking about it.
A, With a just a fraction of weight towards the ball of my toes, I feel more
solid, more athletic as Surge mentions in today's daily.
B. With Dave's (and Derek's) look to the horizon tip, my back is not as
rounded and it helps me maintain my spine angle throughout the swing.
C. Now that little bit of back & away with the right shoulder has my left arm
and club over the toe-line and I lift to thumbs up and my left arm comes
up to my chin. There's just a bit of built up tension or coil going down my
left side,feels pretty good,too!
D. Now,here's the tip I garnered from Sir Nick,that has really helped my
effortless,powerful PPGS. Seeing how to get PLHR, Surge recommends
picking up our belt buckle and moving them rearward about an inch
to the rear. I decided to try Nick's keep it smooth move and just start
the BUS by turning my belt buckle back to where it started. It works for
E.That little belt buckle or belly button move is just enough to get the
weight going back over to my left side and makes my right elbow drop
and from there, I'm in the "Gravity is Free" zone or the slot.
F. From there my left arm naturally uncoils,my hands come back to square
and the ball sails away as my right arm releases and continues on up to
cover my left eye and I recoil and relax.

I guess you can tell by this grand discourse, I had pretty good little session last week. Best thing is, my back didn't hurt any more afterwards than it did before and the limp from my arthritic knees was just the same. My shots were even farther and crisper than last weeks,regardless of the sloping downhill of the range. I hit five drives, the first was a power fade which moved about 10 yards,the next 3 were nut down the middle and I pulled
the last to the left. The last was only because I over did the belly button turn and it,like Surge says, went right where my gut was pointing. Oh, and my fairway metals? All six of them,three each with the 3 metal & 3 hybrid, were all straight down the target line.
I'm closing now,this should take up my allotment to mid-December. Hope
you all have a wonderful week and fairways & greens.

shortgamewizard's picture

Submitted by shortgamewizard on

Your comment could be the framework for a Master's thesis.

The beauty of the PPGS fundamentals is using parameters that adapts one's individual structure to what is the most simple, accurate and powerful swing method in existence. I would expect that with in the next 5 years that golf instruction will move to swinging the club with the arms supported by a solid base instead of dragging the club to and through impact with the legs and torso.

BTW thanks for the new nickname.

The Wiz

boogmc's picture

Submitted by boogmc on

more thanks to you for the valuable insights on our swings,my friend!

shortgamewizard's picture

Submitted by shortgamewizard on

A heart felt line like that is very cool.


Lynn42's picture

Submitted by Lynn42 on

Good to hear from you,Boog. You touched on something that has been an issue for me when I PLHR. I had a problem, especially with my driver, getting my weight through to my left side in the FUS. I'm distance challenged and not getting through to my left side Is a big part of the problem.

Trial and error showed me a couple of things. I was PLHR way too much so I changed my setup to feel more like I was 50/50. I now preset my right butt cheek slightly back just as I start my BUS. I think it's another way of slightly moving your belt buckle to the right as Surge suggests. It has allowed me to get closer to vertical and my weight shift has gotten much easier and improved my distance.

Tomorrow continues the work in progress. If I focus on the journey the destination will take care of itself. Best of luck on the road back, Boog.

boogmc's picture

Submitted by boogmc on

Thanks for the kind words,Lynn! It may very well be long,long road but I'll happily hobble down the shoulder in small steps. It's a journey that I dare not attempt with any other swing than the PPGS.

Lynn42's picture

Submitted by Lynn42 on

Hang in there, Boog. I'm impressed by the stories of people with physical limitations who've found Surge and fight through it to play a game we all love. Some years ago I played with a man who had one arm and played well. I decided then the aches and pains I may deal with don't compare.

I guess the only way we lose is if we quit. My Scots/Irish side tells me that is NOT an option. ;0)'s picture

Submitted by on

Hi Surge
As I live in New Zealand where there are no PPGS instructors I have had to develop my swing by reading your manual, videos and daily tips. So therefore I have to carry out a lot of self analysis to keep my swing in shape.
Recently I have been having some problems, mostly with lack of distance and pulls and fades with no power. So frustrated was I with being unable to diagnose my problem I even resorted to my old rotational swing one day and ended up with little more than a sore back and even more frustration.
Imagine my delight when I watched your video and description of DJ's issues.
For me it was as if a light had just been turned on. The simple but in my view extremely important issue of being in a set up position with muscles engaged and ready to explode through the ball cannot be underestimated.
Although I have not yet played a round using this adjustment, in my backyard practise area I can now hit a pitching wedge 90 yards effortlessly which is good for me. Wow cant wait to get to the course.
Thanks a lot and please keep the advice coming.
Regards Bruce.