In Your Own Words: Driver Improvement | Swing Surgeon - Don Trahan Peak Performance Golf Swing

In Your Own Words: Driver Improvement

Tue, 09/24/2013 - 14:00 -- Don Trahan

Ever since I started the blog category "In Your Own Words," more and more Surgites have shared their own success stories with me. I get a lot of joy from reading these messages and the whole idea is that something that worked for someone else could work for another.

Phil D. wrote in a long message that talked about his overall improvement with his driver. He made so many good points in his letter that I just had to let the Surge Nation read it. I'm also going to discuss what caused the disappearance of long irons and how it led to the emergence of hybrids. Many people may not know how it all got started.

Hi Don.

I just want to thank you for your golf video lessons I received from you approximately 5 years ago (60 years old then). And, thank you just as much for the daily tips. The lessons and tips are wonderful, reviewed, and they have and still are putting renewed energy into my game. 
I play left handed with an artificial left hip, and have some joint inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis. That is okay. Now, I tee my ball up by kneeling on the ground and also carefully kneel on putting greens to fix divots and clean ball and align for putting. (Have a little ball suction cup on putter end to pick up ball from cup).
With proper alignment and staying out of the sacred burial ground, the ball stays for the most part in play. Cannot put as much heavy left on left leg as I used to when addressing ball, so now the most important thought I have on my golf swing is “shoulder to shoulder”  and up the tree which gives me a balanced finish. It works so well with PPGS for me. 

The clubs used are fitted, but one thing I have learned is, if on some days, I am cutting the ball into trouble with my driver, I will “choke” up on the club about one half inch, like a baseball player of old; choke up, meet the ball, get a base hit. It is amazing. The ball seems to go a little farther, and occasionally will draw. Another thing; because of the joint inflammation, I for the most part pull my club through on the golf swing now with forward arm, using the left arm only as guide for swing path. I know you do not teach this, it is just now more difficult to keep the club head square through impact with left hand/right hand equal pressure on grip. 
I will never forget a golf lesson I had around 1990 from an elderly instructor. I told him I was not hitting my clubs far enough; that I wanted to get more distance from each club. He told me to get my 130 yard club out which was then an 8 iron and to hit the ball. The ball went about 130 yards. He then took my club, put a piece of athletic tape on the bottom of the club head, and with a magic marker wrote “P” on it for pitching wedge. He then said, “it does not matter what club you have in your hands as long it can send it the distance you are intending. If your 8 iron is your 130 yard club, use it for your 130 yard shot. Do not concern yourself with what clubs other people use.” A lesson in pride.  
Our group of seniors play the senior tees. We enjoy each one another's company and the competition. We all walk 18 holes.
Club distances now are; driver-190 yards, 3 wood-180 yards, 2 hybrid-170 yards, 3 hybrid-160 yards, 4 hybrid-150 yards, 5 hybrid-140 yards, 
6 iron through sand wedge 130 yards through chipping next to green. Score average is 88 on the 5 courses we play. I did shoot a 79 just 3 weeks ago. Hoorah!

What a wonderful game. It is a hold onto youth; a game that can be played with the optimism of a teenager; a journey of joy and humility with friends throughout each golf round no matter what age we are.
If you ever stop in Wichita, Kansas, hopefully I will have the opportunity to meet you.
Phil D.

What a fantastic outlook on the game of golf. Phil's letter really shows that golf truly is a game for all ages. It's a game that you can be competitive in your whole life. Thanks so much Phil. I'm sure many other Surgites will find that your story really hits home.

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.

Comments's picture

Submitted by tomkohberger@gm... on

Hello Don,
I have been using your swing for the last 3 years and I must say I love it. My game has improved and my body isn't taking a beating anymore. There is a guy on the web advertising the Moe Norman swing which is a single plane swing. This made me think about what you always say "golf is a game of angles the fewer the better". This swing takes one more angle out of the swing because you are starting the swing on the same plane line you end up on in the forward swing. What are your thoughts on this?
Thanks, Tom K

JKPassage's picture

Submitted by JKPassage on

Tom K, you are probably talking about Todd Graves and the Graves Golf Academy ("Swing Like Moe" and all that). For the most part, the single plane swing relies on a rotary motion to take the club up and back and then down and through after impact, thus more shoulder turn and hip turn (angles!) and taking your hands, arms and club into the sacred burial grounds. It is not designed to be a vertical golf swing method. JKP

gooddoc's picture

Submitted by gooddoc on

Hey guys, Surge's comments are more appropriate to the Natural Golf swing taught by the Natural Golf company, that promoted non-tapering grips. Moe Norman did not use non-tapering grips (his just had less taper) and did not grip the club in the palm of his trail hand. His trail hand was not perpendicular as in PPGS, but a bit stronger; the trail forward is 'sunny-side up. 'See Graves Golf Academy teaches the original Moe Norman swing. The club position is the the center of your stance (as opposed to the Surge's explanation), although the ball position is 5 inches behind the lead heel for irons; The hands are high so that you start on a single plane and stay on that plane throughout. The swing is not PPGS vertical but is higher than the modern rotational golf swing; think Steve Stricker. And most importantly, the width of the stance varies by moving your trail foot further back as your clubs get longer. With a wedge, the width is close to that of PPGS. By the time you get to a 6 iron the width is wider than PPGS. And with a driver it is much wider but not as much as the Surge demonstrated.

shortgamewizard's picture

Submitted by shortgamewizard on

Surge is right on that the Ping irons created the movement to stronger lofted irons. A year earlier the Hogan company came up with the +1 irons in forged blades instead of the cast cavity backs. No matter who was the first one, lofts are what the numbers should be on the bottom of the irons. Cleveland with the Launcher woods did this years ago where the loft was on the fairway woods and not the number of the club

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on


Agree 100% that lofts should be on our irons not a number. Too it has been suggested that we mark out clubs (on the shaft) what our normal distance is for that club although through time and testing most of us have this all memorized any how.

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

Surge, Thanks for mentioning the disparity between different club names. I noticed a long, long time ago the differences. Just checked for the hell of it: The loft on the Ping G2 3W is 14deg and the Mizuno 3W is 16deg; Ping G2 5W is 17deg, while the Mizuno is 22deg!!! A good example. I have a Ping Zing 3iron, which must be 20 or more years old, had from new. It still has a pristine original grip on it! I liked my original Ping Eye 3iron, but could never take to the later one. Now the reason is obvious.
As to whether it is a PW or a 9iron in disguise, has never bothered me one bit. My total focus is on knowing the consistent distances I can rely on with each club in the bag, irrespective of brand or the number on the bottom of the club. "The ball sure doesn't know what club I have in my paw", as Surge says.
Still no golf for us here unless wearing a wet suit and snorkel : - ( Friday perhaps if the forecast is accurate.
Keep hitting them consistenty YOUR distances accurately straight. DH

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

First of all, nice to read your words. Missed you the last couple of weeks my friend. Almost sent out a posse (search party) to look for you.
I agree that our focus as far as our clubs is knowing our common distances for each. For example I normally hit my gap wedge 100 yards with a normal full swing. I know I can back off lightly for 90-95 and give it a little more juice for 105 so Knowing your clubs and how far you hit them is vital. I agree with SGW that they should put the actual lofts on each club from wedges through driver. Then we should check them (or have them checked to see if the lofts are what they say they are and are gaped according to our needs (ie., 4 degrees between each). Maltby even suggests 5 degrees if our swing speeds are lower (slower) so as to give us a decent gap of yardage between clubs. Any how that is why I never ask and don't care what others in my group are hitting off the par 3 tees or anywhere else because first, I don't base my game on other golfers (ego doesn't get it in the fairway and hole) and their clubs very likely have a different loft than mine regardless of whether they are the same # club or not ( say both 9 irons). "YOUR" distances indeed DH.

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

Hi Robert,
Lots been going on for us here and have been busy with non-golf things, boohoo! ; - ) Just this very afternoon the sun came out and I was able to scoot onto the front yard driving range mat and have a swing practice. First time in a while and fingers crossed....shhhhh! Better not say it too loudly, maybe on the morrow.....shhhhh!
Had a 10 minute session yesterday in between showers and today's session was an intensive half hour. Both sessions with 3 warm up swings with the abbreviated "Torture Drill" warm up. More confidence in swinging correctly and thinking "finish" and not one problem. Time will tell on the course. The coring of our greens was postponed due to gale force winds and torrential rain. Sure as heck won't need to water anything hahaha!
Like you, I don't give a hoot what distance others hit any club. I ask my golf mate what he used when he got his birdie [sodden course in the south island] on a par 3, only as a guide for that particular hole. His normal course is out of commission still and likely to be so for some time to come yet! My distances are the only ones I am interested in. I saw a guy recently who hits the ball a huge distance, way past where I would finish. He had no chance of making the green on his next shot from the trees, whereas I would have a longer shot but a clear view of the green. Thanks to Surge, the PPGS swing, and other Surgites assistance and tips. Keep hitting them consistently straight.Fairways and greens and not Trees and screams ; - ) DH