George Gankas on Unique Golf Swings and Body Rotation for Power

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George Gankas on Unique Golf Swings and Body Rotation for Power

On the Mark Show Notes

Episode summary introduction: 

George Gankas joins our “On the Mark” podcast for a second time. He brings his energy, passion, and insights as he talks about “unique” golf swings and references his long-time client, rising amateur star Matt Wolff. George talks about speed, power, body pivot, and rotation and how you can improve yours to garner longer, more consistent shots. He also talks about understanding Launch Monitor data and how you can interpret it to create beneficial “feels”.

Introduction with Mark Immelman:

 The PGA Tour season rolling right along. Congratulations to Bryson DeChambeau, the Bridgestone golf player, who won the Jack Nicklas Memorial Tournament last week. I was honored to be a part of that PGA Tour Live broadcast, covering some of the great players playing on one of the PGA Tours great golf courses. 

Speaking of great golf courses…it’s Memphis Week! The Fedex St. Jude Classic, a really wonderful event in Memphis, Tennessee. One of my favorite stops at the TCP Southwind is Beale Street in Memphis, great music, great BBQ!  AND,  it’s the week leading into the US Open. I look forward to a lot of really cool podcasts that we’ve got upcoming to get you set up for that US Open. 

I spoke with Retief Goosen, the ’04 winner at Shinnecock Hills (find that podcast HERE). He spoke about battling Phil Mickelson down the stretch, he spoke about the mindset required to win US Opens and major championships. He also spoke about that harrowing incident in his life where he was struck my lightening as a young man.Insightful and interesting stuff there from “The Goose”.

In the meantime, to get yourself set up, we’ve got the 2017 US Open Champ,
Brooks Koepka, in our cache of Podcasts (listen HERE). He talks about how he learned the game, what he believes is important, how get gets power. 

Introduction of George Gankas

To set things up, George Gankas has been on our podcast before, he is a member of our Tribe, he’s “Gucci” as he says. In 2018 at the NCAA Division I National Championships, there was a young man name Matthew Wolff who turned a lot of heads. He is a young man who has been taught by George Gankas. I know about him, I looked at him, I watched him on social media.

Then the one evening after a broadcast, I was lying in a hotel room watching some of the NCAA Division I matches on TV, and Matthew got up there and was dusting a competitor! He hit the three wood off the tee with some of the Launch Monitor measurements, the ball was launched at 178 mph!! And that’s with a three wood!?! Just to put that into perspective, the average golfer on the PGA Tour with a DRIVER is about 167 mph. So this young man cranks it faster with a three wood than most do with a driver. 

Early in the week a bunch of the pundits looked on his golf swing, which is kind of Matthew’s own. But it is about swinging your swing. I reached out straight away to George to talk about this because I am big on people remaining true to who they are. I have a high respect for golf instructors who help people to use what they have and not necessarily go about re-tooling everything. 

Welcome George Gankas 

[Timestamp: 4:56]
Mark: Tell us a little bit about your new venture, I am watching on social media and see you behind a camera, looks like all sorts of new content coming out. What’s going on?

George: I am starting my own membership site. It’s going to be George Gankas Golf. I am working in the studio on new content, a lot of cool new stuff. 

Mark: Here at the 2018 NCAAs I’ve been hearing you talk about Matthew Wolff, but we got eyes on young stud for the first time, and he blew the doors of the thing. What I saw in this kid, I thought of you and actually Tweeted about it…

Kudos to George Gankas for helping this young man to remain true to who he is!

 I want some opening thoughts from you, please. I know he joined you when he was just a youngster getting into high school. 

George: I think everyone wants to make golf swings look aesthetically pleasing. They thinks that if it’s not then it doesn’t work, and that is absolute garbage! And it always will be garbage to me. If your bottom is good, meaning through the impact area, and your pressure shift is good, I don’t care what the backswing looks like as long as it is optimal for speed, and optimal to create good swing direction in the downswing, and good numbers…then I’m all for it. It doesn’t have to look like the prettiest swing in the world for it to be efficient. 

Natural Speed? Or Learned?

Mark: [Timestamp: 8:32] I watched Matt play, had seen some videos of yours on social media, and there are a few areas I want to start with.

The youngster that comes to you, did he have that speed naturally? or was this something you helped him to achieve? 

George: There were some things he definitely did naturally. He was a baseball player number 1, so had his foot off the ground when he came to me, his through the ball area was very stalled out.

Right now he is very opened, but he pushes up off the ground so hard that his feet get airborne. When swing catalyst came to Matt in Oklahoma they found out that he had 298% vertical forces

He moves mats on my driving range. He doesn’t like hitting off mats because they actually move in the middle of the swing, the ball moves off the tee when he is hitting. 

So, he has been pushing the ground for a long, long time. I was with him when he was 13, about 5’1″, weighing about 120 pounds.  Was he killing the ball?  No. 

He was way dumped under (probably about 14 degrees under), hitting big swing hooks. When I saw it, I had already dealt with a few players that were cross the line and I saw how they matched it up with good body pivot. 

Instead of changing this kids natural move that is so cool, I would rather keep a lot of it and fix his through the impact area. As soon as I told Matt, he said “You’re my coach.” 

Where’s a Good Place to Start?

Mark: That is something Matt has referenced, after all the success in the NCAA, obviously he was runner up in the 2017 US Junior Amateur Golf Championship as well, that he owes it all to you. 
A few questions from your observations there. First, and now I am talking for the parents who are thinking… Ok, George has helped this stud kid to success in the collegiate ranks.

[Timestamp: 11:25]
You say he was hitting the blocks and the sling hooks. Are you of the opinion that this is not a bad place for some young kid to be, because you would rather them hit that sort of shape than go in opposite direction when learning the game? 

George:  We are all taught these releases where we are supposed to go into flexion a little ulnar, that will create some forearm roll at the bottom, and then turn back through it and go into extension and learn that little release, that little pattern.

But to me, I would much rather see a kid roll the left forearm, go into supination of the left hand, right hand going into pronation and getting a player to get in to out, and learn to hook the ball first from in to out.

Those have always been my very best players, because all I have to do is add rotation to that and the handle start to move more forward. The dynamic loft goes down, the compression gets better, their path to face ratio gets better.

I would much rather see a kid from under and flip hooking with out a doubt. To learn rotation from there is easy. 

Mark: So, your contention is that the under, quick release of the wrist there can get improved just by improving rotation through the golf ball. 

George: If it is done properly with rotation and you are mixing your remedy with linear with angular motion or a little bit of rotation with a little bit of shift, then yes, I love it! 

High Speed vs Controlled Speed

Mark:  [Timestamp: 13:27] You speak of the vertical height Matt uses on the ground. It was mind blowing for me to watch this youngster. But then when I watched him gear one down with a wedge he was plugged into the ground, he was real stable, the management of the speed looked sound. Everything was just a bit more geared down. 

Talk a bit about how you and Matthew have worked on this high speed with the big clubs to this controlled speed with the more touch stuff. 

George: Since we first started he was hitting sling hooks. The first project was to get him left just a little bit more, and that was with rotation. We did that first through rotation, rotation, rotation. 

Which is interesting because his top was, let’s say, 14 degrees to the right, his face was roughly around 7, 8, 9 degrees hitting a draw back to the target. When I started getting his path more to the left, his face was still out about 6, 7, 8, degrees, the ball was starting to go straight left. So we had to start moving his face accordingly left from his address position. We laid the face wide open, flipped it back. We gradually started going left and moving the face along the match up with the path. That was our first project. 

Battle of the Mind

Mark:  There is an emotional and mental battle that goes with that, especially for a talented young golfer. You start getting better numbers on the launch monitor path-wise, but see the golf ball go hard left because that face is still out of whack. How did you guys work to keep him geed up about this? and not think “Oh man, my golf swing is going in the tank.”? 

George: He understood the numbers. I would put sticks on the ground. I made him understand the ratios between path and face.  
I appropriately starting brining his face a little more left….a little more left… so we gradually started to tone it down. 

I have numbers on my range that are a degree apart, it is pretty interesting. So he knew what 2 degrees was, he knew roughly where his ball was starting. He started seeing the pattern he was creating. He started seeing visuals on the course, so he didn’t have swing path, he had visuals just from understanding ball flight laws. He wasn’t mechanical as much as he was visual about what his ball was doing. 

You have WHAT on your Range?

[Timestamp:16:43] 
Mark: I was to visit that a little more. You say you’ve got signs on your range. This to me is fascinating. You basically you have created an environment where you’ve measured where 2 degrees is extended down the range? And you have targets out there for folks to hit? 

George: Yes, we could see a degree sign where the ball would start out from. *Hear George’s full response at [Timestamp: 17:05]**

Launch Monitors

Mark: I think that practice with launch monitors is an awesome way to practice. To sort of take what you see on the launch monitor, and like Matthew did, and take it to the course and start to develop your “feels” out of it. 

George: 100%, that is why he knew why the ball over hooked. It wasn’t his face closing out because the ball was starting on the line. He knew that his swing direction was more right. Once he understood that he knew when he was hooking it he needed to swing more left with rotation, or change his body lines, or change his ball position. He started getting real creative with it and now it is more of a feel thing for him. 

Management or Continual Evolution?

Mark: When Matt comes back from college, the things you guys work on, is it more management of where he is or is there continual evolution of his golf swing? 

George: The only thing he needs to think about now is rotation through the ball, because he gets a little stuck through the bottom area. He doesn’t release his neck or chest, but at impact his chest is opened roughly around 30 degrees, his hips are opened at least 45 degrees.
So let’s look at that as a math equation. Say his path is zero, his face is zero; he likes hitting a straight ball. Just to give you a hypothetical. What is the problem with stalling out after the ball is gone? ….There isn’t one. The problem is that if you back out of a ball and your path swing is more right your face tends to close because post impact you hook it, then you have some problems. He is. not a guy who backs out of a ball too much! 

So, to answer your questions, yes it is mostly management now. I love where his golf swing is, and as long as his setup is right, his balance points are good, and he continues to work on his rotation, there is not a lot more to do except to manage other parts of his game and his mind. 

Rotation Drills with George Gankas

Mark: You keep talking rotation. I’m sure there are a few folks that have had someone say to them ” You stalled through contact. There’s not enough rotation.” Share a cool drill that people can go and try on the driving range. 

George: [Timestamp: 21:00] The main reason that people don’t rotate is their face is wide open. So, if you do rotate, the ball is going right. Understand that if the face is more on the shut side you have to turn or the ball is going to go left. 

  • Try to get leading edge square to your back line when shaft is parallel on the downswing (P6) 
  • Move your pivot: Imagine that your belt buckle is in the middle of your feet at address
  • Push pressure forward into your left hip (about a golf ball size)
  • Feel like you are head face center. 
  • Open hips about 45 degrees
  • Chest opened about 30 degrees

Mark: Hold on! What you are describing I’m seeing in young Matt Wolff, that little pre-swing trigger thing he’s got going on. For me, I learned from Gary Player, the knee kick and little rotation. Is this what you are saying? 

George: That is exactly how we got it. He got it because he was closed, and I said go to impact. Then he started hitting impact and back, and wanted to know if he could keep doing it. I told him that if he hits it that good he can do whatever he wants. 

**Ok back to the dill!!** 

Basically, I’m just pre-setting you into an impact. When I say a ball, it is just a check point into how far forward you move from address position. 

So let’s say someone’s address position is their pelvis is in the middle of their feet, meaning their belt buckle is not toward their left foot, they are not putting pressure forward. But if you had your belt in the middle and are pretty centered, and push a little pressure forward on your left side (about an inch and a half) and then you turned your hip, but kept it on that wall and you had your head face center (you would have some left leg bend and your right leg would straighten up a bit). 
The left side of the hip has to be higher at impact than the right side. But during transition the left side of the hip is lower, then it gets back to level, then it tilts. What tilts it is a combination of a push off trail leg and a little bit of extension in the left leg, with maintaining rotation and keeping your right leg bent. 

To make it simple..

  • Get pressure forward
  • Turn chest about 30 degrees
  • keep your head centered (which means you would have a little right bend and a little push off trail)
  • Get your hips open 
  • Take it back to P6 or shaft parallel 
  • Leading edge square to your back 
  • Move right back into that impact 
  • start hitting little pitch shots 

It will give you a really go sense of what impact should feel like. 
If you can get back to that position from any backswing and get back to that impact, that’s what it is really about. 

Trend Setting 

Mark: It was odd as I watched the progression through watching this event (2018 NCAAs) on TV. Initially, people were like “WHOA, who is this boy?”, the pundits who hadn’t seen this swing before, hadn’t seen Matt Wolff hit the golf ball…then he starts whipping up on guys, he’s killing it around the place. All of a sudden his swing goes from eye opening and different …to people on social media talking about how cool his swing was. 

I think as people watched it, his swing became cool because of his personality for one, but just the way he hit the golf ball secondly. 

George: Matthew has a lot of swag. He walks around with a lot of confidence. He is not a cocky kid at all. I have instilled a lot of confidence in him. I give him trigger words  because that gives him confidence. It is things he needs to get his mind right, things to get his confidence where it needs to be. 

He was unsure if his swing was ok when he was growing up from 13-16 because people were like “What is this? This is whack!” People would say, “This is not ok. Get him less across the line.” I instilled in his brain that his swing was the coolest and it will change golf, and he will be a trend setter.  He will actually change how golf is looked at. 

I told him, If you get in a slump, just keep doing what you are doing. Do not let anybody change your golf swing, because consistency for him is coming from his brain. It’s in the fact that thinks the same thing in a shot over and over. He has the same frame of mind coming into every ball. That’s why he is so consistent. 

Consistency doesn’t come from your golf swing.
It comes from your mind. 
-George Gankas

Mark: I’ve watched you from afar. Then I watched Johnny Ruiz, who is a complete flusher, and he’s got a lot of the same tendencies that Matt Wolff has. 

George: Johnny Ruiz came back from Canada and says he wants to redo his swing. He said he wanted to look like Matt Wolff. I just started laughing! 
That is basically how he changed his swing, he copied Matt Wolff. That was not his natural. 
But just to be clear, that was NOT me telling him to change his swing. People think I am making people cross the line. It just so happens that some of my best ball strikers are cross the line. 

I think everyone who was cross the line back in the day were great ball strikers.  Miller Barber, Fred Couples, Jimmy Bruen. 

Wrap up with Mark Immelman: 

The great Nick Price, for my money, is one the best ball strikers ever to play this game. He used to do a little preset, sort of an impact thing like that, where he would set the face. He wouldn’t just do the pivot like Matt Wolff does. He’d set the face behind the golf ball, sort of de-loft it, lean on the shaft a bit, get the face turned a smidge inwards, and then he would rotate the body on that to get the lead arm against the chest some. From there he would get the sense, swing back a little bit, as George Gankas said, and would go through and delivery the golf club through impact the same way. 

It is a super way to get a feel for how the club should feel to perform through impact. Yes, and then you can do whatever you’ve got to do in the other areas of the swing to facilitate. You can create match ups, as Shauheen Nakhjavani would say. You can find that On the Mark podcast with him HERE. You can get the Nick Price podcast HERE too. 

The take away from all of this is….If your swing matches up well, even if it doesn’t look top drawer, it is ok. I think of Shane Lowery, he gets the club across the line, hands a little deep at the top, but he shadows it beautifully. Fred Couples, Sam Snead, and now young Matt Wolff. 

Swing your swing! You might be a trend setter! 

Think of the big trend setters when it comes to golf swings. Of course there was Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods…and maybe it is Matt Wolff next. 

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