The Golf Swing

This blog is dedicated to the golf swing. Please feel free to discuss any tips, techniques and methods that you use to improve your swing.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Fixing Common Mistakes - Head Drop

It's hard enough to coil your upper body to its maximum so don't make it harder by letting poor posture get in the way. A common fault of many golfers is to let their head drop at address so that the chin nearly touches or does touch the neck. By dropping your head you limit your shoulder turn and hence the distance you can hit the ball. Make it a habit to have good posture. Keep your spine straight and your chin up. If you do this you'll allow room for your shoulders to turn the way they should and you'll greatly increase your distance.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Fixing Common Mistakes - Weak Grip

Traditional golf instruction teaches that you should be able to see at least 2 knuckles on your left hand when you look down at your grip. I on the other hand believe that if you can see only 2 knuckles you're restricting your swing. The fewer knuckles you see the weaker your grip and the more restricted your hand action will be. Now if you're a big strong person and you hit the ball great with a weak grip don't change it. But, if you're having problems with distance and direction check your grip. You should be able to see 3 knuckles on your left hand. Give it a try and you'll find you hit the ball with more authority since your hands will be livlier.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Set Up - The Left Arm

The left arm forms the radius of your swing arc. If the left arm bends during the swing it will force the clubhead to move out of position forcing you to make adjustments during the swing to bring the club back to square at impact. The goal is to have the the left arm in the same position at impact as it was when you addressed the ball. To make sure this happens start with the left arm straight at address and concentrate on getting it square again at impact. It's almost impossible to not bend the left arm at all during the swing. Some bending will occur naturally. This natural bend of the arm will correct itself on the downswing due to the centrifugal force created during the swing. The key is to not let the arm bend any more than it naturally would during the swing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Set Up - Correct Distance of Hands from Body

Did you know that your clubs differ in length in 1/2" increments? A 9 iron is 1/2" shorter than an 8 iron , an 8 iron 1/2" shorter than a 7 iron etc. So how do you add consistency to ball position and make sure your hands are the proper distance from your body? Try this method. Set up to the ball as you normally would and place your club on the ground behind the ball. Remove your right hand from the club without changing the position of the club. Make a fist with your right hand and extend your thumb. Now place your fist against your left thigh. The tip of your thumb should just touch the butt of your club. Then simply place your right hand back on the club and you're ready to go. The only other piece of advice I would give you is not to leave the clubface on the ground. After determining the proper distance of your hands from your body and placing your right hand back on the club I like to raise the clubface off the ground (change the angle of the spine don't pick up the hands) as it makes for a smoother takeaway. Use this method for all your clubs and you'll always have your hands the proper distance from your body.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Set Up - Keep the Club Off the Ground

When you set up to the ball at the tee box do you let the clubface rest on the ground? Do you pick the club up with the hands on the takeaway rather than with the arms and shoulders? Both are sure fired ways to lessen the distance you could potentially hit the ball. If you keep the club on the ground you run the risk of dragging the club along the grass on the takeaway. If you pick the club up with the hands rather then your arms and shoulders it's almost impossible to generate maximum clubhead speed.

What you need to accomplish is an arms-shoulder take-away from the ball that will create a wide arc and generate maximum clubhead speed. Rather than grounding the club try hovering the club behind the ball at address. Hold the club off the ground behind the ball and line up the sweet spot of the club right next to the ball. You'll immediately feel the difference. By holding the club off the ground you transfer control of the club from the hands to the arms and shoulders which makes it easier to make a one-piece takeaway. You'll be able to create a wider swing arc which translates to more power and greater distance.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Set Up - Proper Distance Between Your Feet

Everyone wants to knock the cover off the ball. A common mistake I see alot of golfers make is to set their feet too wide apart in the mistaken impression that a wider stance will yield more power. A wider stance might feel more powerful but in actuality a wider stance will inhibit the weight shift and the proper movement of the lower body.

The correct distance between your feet is just wide enough to give you a solid foundation and narrow enough to allow your lower body to move. This distance is typically shoulder distance apart. At shoulder width apart you give your hips the ability to turn freely and allow for a smooth transfer of weight between your feet.

The proper distance between your feet will also allow you to swing as hard as you want without losing control provided you can maintain your balance. If you can't maintain balance with your feet spread properly, it's a sign that you're swinging too hard. Rather than spreading your feet to accommodate a fast motion, throttle down with the upper body. You won't lose power by keeping your stance narrow because what you sacrifice in arm power will be made up for by an active lower body.

Practice using different distances between your feet with different clubs. The shoulder width rule is not really accurate it's just a guide. Your feet should actually be a little closer together on short iron shots, just inside shoulder width, and a little further apart when hitting your driver, just outside shoulder width.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Set Up - The Role of the Spine

In order to create the type of power necessary to hit the ball far you have to engage the large muscles of your back and hips. In the golf swing they are the main source of power. In the middle of all these big muscles is your spine. it is the axis about which you rotate these large muscles. It's important that you understand what the proper positioning of the spine is throughout the swing. Basically, in a nutshell, the angle of the spine remains constant throughout the swing until you are well into the follow-through.

The easiest way to make sure you have the proper spine angle is to get it right at the beginning when you address the ball. To achieve a proper spine angle at address, bend forward from the hips while keeping your spine as straight as possible. A straight spine bends your torso forward so your arms hang freely from the shoulders. Bend until the hands are approximately six inches from the thighs. As you bend from the hips, don't lock your legs. Instead, maintain a slight flex in your knees. To make the most effective turn, your spine must be as straight as possible. Keep your chin up rather than dropping it toward your chest. If the chin drops, the top of the spine will curve.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Set Up - Driver Ball Position

When you have the driver in your hand do you tee the ball up opposite your left instep? If you're a power hitter and are getting good results keep at it. However, if you have problems with the driver it might not be such a good idea to tee the ball that far forward in your stance. When the ball is placed forward in your stance you are hitting the ball on the upswing. In order to keep your clubface square your hands must make adjustments as the club passes the bottom of the swing arc. Any variation in clubface angle at impact will result in a mis-hit. You might want to try sacrificing a bit of distance for accuracy by hitting the ball at the bottom of the swing arc.

Try taking a practice swing with just your left arm. Note the point where your clubface is at the bottom of the swing arc. This is the point at which your clubface will be naturally square to your target line by using just the rotation of your upper body. You've taken any adjustment of your hands out of the equation. The result may be some loss of distance but you'll wind up playing from the fairway a lot more often.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Set Up - Alignment part 2

If you get the clubface square to the ball its easier to get the rest of your body to be square to your target. The best way I know to square up your clubface is the following. Begin by standing directly behind you ball. Pick out your target line and then pick out a spot a foot or two in front of the ball. This spot must be directly on the target line. It could be a twig, a blade of grass, a tee, it doesn't matter waht it is as long as it is directly on your target line. This spot now becomes your target when you're setting up. Now walk to your ball and place your club behind the ball so that it is perpendicular to your target line using your spot as your reference point.

Now take your grip on the club making sure the clubface stays square. Then align your feet perpendicular to the clubface and parallel to the target line. Now that your feet are square the rest of your body should also be square. Take one final check to make sure you're sqaure by looking at your mark on the ground and out to your actual target. If everything looks Ok then fire away.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Set Up - Alignment part 1

If you don't set up square to the ball your shot is basically ruined before you swing the club. Aiming your club and body anywhere other than parallel to your target line is a sure fired recipe for making a good swing bad and a bad swing even worse.

Learning to align yourself properly doesn't require any special skills or years of experience. All it requires is that you take some time and effort to make sure your body and club are aimed properly.

Proper alignment means setting your feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and clubface square to the target line. However, in order to consistently set yourself square you have to know what square feels like.

Try the following: Place a club on the ground parallel to your target line. Now grab another club and take your stance making sure your knees are flexed, you're bent forward at the hips, your spine is straight and your arms are hanging from your shoulders. Now, without changing the position of your body lay the club across your knees. Is the club parallel to the club you placed on the ground along your target line? It should be. Is the club parallel to the ground? It should be. Do the same thing for your hips and shoulders. The club should always be parallel to your target line and the ground.

Tune in again tomorrow for more on setting up square to the ball.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Set Up - Stick You Butt Out

Most golfers know what the proper set up should look like. In case you don't, here it is, bend forward at the hips, flex your kees slightly and keep your spine straight and your arms hanging down from the shoulders. Yet many golfers can't seem to get it right. Instead of bending forward at the hips I see many golfers arch their backs in order to lower the club to the ball. By arching your back instead of bending at the hips all you accomplish is to tuck your chin into your chest and make a proper coiling of the upper body almost impossible.

Rather than bending forward at the hips try this idea instead. Stick your butt out! If you concentrate on sticking out your butt out when you address the ball it will force you to bend forward at the hips and keep your spine straight and your arms hanging down from the shoulders. Maintain this angle throughout the swing and you'll find it much easier to coil your upper body and get a full body turn which will lead to greater distance on all of your shots.

Give it a try. Set up to the ball and bring your club to the ball by arching your back and then hit the ball. Now, hit another ball but instead of arching your back, stick your butt out and bring your club behind the ball. I guarantee you'll see the difference.