Clearing The Pipe

Mike “Pipe Dream” Burk is chasing his Senior Tour dream at Trilogy

Mike Schlund
Director of Instruction
The Golf Academy at Power Ranch
Queen Creek, AZ

More Information

Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of working with Mark “Pipe Dream” Burk in his pursuit of qualifying for the Senior PGA Tour. I spent quite a bit of time just talking to him, playing a few rounds with him, and watching him hit some balls on the range. My first impression of Mark was being amazed at just how much he knows about the golf swing. The flip side of that is I determined that he might have a little too much information in his head to help his own game get to the level he would like.  

After my full assessment was made, I decided that the best way for Mark to get consistent with his swing is to first get consistent with his mind. The first few rounds I played with Mark, I noticed his common miss was a shot that had too much right to left curvature. His setup was a little closed (feet/hips pointed right of the target) which created 3 potential ball flights: a Push Draw, Pull Hook left or Push right. I determined that the best way for Mark to cut down the amount of right to left spin was to help him “clear” onto his left side better through impact. 

With a closed stance his feet, hips and shoulders were pointed right of the target. In photo 1 he shows us his new setup, which is a little more “open” to the target line. By dropping his left foot back a couple inches, we allowed his hip line to get square to the target line and more in line with his shoulders. It also allows for a little more knee flex which promotes a more athletic setup. 

The biggest physical differences come later in the swing. The main purpose for opening his stance was to allow him to clear his left side more through impact. With his old setup, his left leg was not visible at all at impact. In photo 2 you can see how much his left leg is clearing on the downswing. The back of his left leg is now visible and because of this he is not getting “stuck” so his arms are free to head right down the target line. This promotes less reliance on hand rotation and will make his ball flight a lot straighter on a consistent basis. 

The final phase of our swing restoration was in his finish. This was not a conscious change but a change that was made as a result of everything else clearing better and his left side getting out of the way better. In photo 3 he has rotated so much harder to his left side that his right shoulder is now much closer to the target, his left hip is farther left and his right foot has made a huge turn. Overall it is a much more balanced, looser finish than the old tight, restricted finish.

As an instructor, my job is not only to help Mark clear his left side in his swing a little better, but also to clear his mind of all the information that could be detrimental to his long term golf career. I think we are on the right track to do that!

Mike Schlund is Director of Instruction at the Golf Academy at Power Ranch, located in Mesa, Arizona. If you have questions or would like to contact Mike, call 480.200.4148 or email

Note: Scott Sackett is on vacation this month and Mike was nice enough to fill in for him.