Golf is easier than we make it out to be
It’s all about control.
It seems reasonable that in order to hit the golf ball with consistency and with maximum distance that we should hold onto the golf club with all of our might, taking the club back and then attempting to return the club back to the ball. “Hitting” the ball seems so easy when you watch the pros swing. Their golf swings seem so effortless. In fact it is effortless.
Keep in mind that when watching professional golfers on television, they have spent countless hours for many years attempting to perfect their golf swings. Their knowledge of specific positions within the swing motion qualifies them as experts. And experts they are! Watching them “swing” is like poetry in motion. They all make the game look so easy. In fact, it is easy . . . easier then we make it out to be.
This last sentence seems to be a contradiction to what most people experience about the game of golf. The game is easy? In fact, by most people’s experience, including mine, the game can be one of the most difficult sports in the world to become good at. How difficult is it to take a stick and hit a ball that is not even moving? Seems easy until you give it a go. Golf tends to and will always continue to be one of the most frustrating games on the planet.
The fact still remains that if it looks so easy (when watching a professional) then why is it so difficult to hit the golf ball in the direction you want, with consistent contact and with a reasonable amount of distance? Why can I not repeat the perfect shot I just hit two holes ago? Why, why, why? Well, to quote the title from a book by Dr. Bob Rotella, Golf is not a Game of Perfect. I think in short, this says it all.
It’s unreasonable to think that you can hit each and every shot perfectly. In fact, even the best players in the world understand that they will not hit every shot perfectly. Therefore, this would lead me to believe that you are only as good as your miss-hit shots. The question then becomes, how do I “hit” the ball better? The answer lies in the word.
You do not “hit” the ball you make a “swing”. Although a play on words, “swinging” the club rather than trying to “hit” the ball says it all. In most cases, attempting to “hit” the ball creates certain swing flaws. These swing flaws include; improper grip, a tight grip pressure and most certainly improper body motion. The fact remains that most players who are attempting to hit the ball swing to, not through the ball causing poor contact, loss of distance and direction.
The past number of articles I have discussed the flaws associated with improper body motion. These flaws include sway, slide and early extension. These swing flaws are a direct result of allowing the body to move laterally as you swing the golf club back and through the ball. Lateral motion of your body during the golf swing compromises contact and direction.
The first step is to discuss the proper sequence of motion during the backswing. Once you’re in your set up position, begin the club moving back by turning your shoulders. The arms are attached to the shoulders therefore when you turn your shoulders the arms and club start moving back as well.
Too often I see a player use their hands to start the club moving back. This immediately puts you out of sequence and in most cases sets a player up to “hit” the ball, not “swing” the club.
As the shoulders turn the hips will begin to rotate. As you approach the top of your backswing, your left knee (for right handed golfers) will move toward your right knee slightly. The last thing to happen in the backswing is the left heel may rise slightly. The bottom line is that we are attempting to make a rotational motion during the backswing rather than a lateral motion. If done properly you will create load. In other words, the idea is to coil your body up in such a way that engages your core muscles. Too many players use just their arms and hands to swing the club. Doing so minimizes your power and ultimately causes poor contact and affects direction.
The downswing is basically a reversal of this sequence. The last thing to happen in the backswing is the first thing to happen in the downswing. Let’s use the spring analogy to help you better understand this concept. I attached a spring at its base to a table top. Placing my hand on the top part of the spring, I start coiling it up. The spring will coil from the top until it cannot coil any further. When I let go of the spring it begins to uncoil from the bottom up.
The same thing happens in the downswing. I start by putting my left heel on the ground so that I can transfer weight to it. From here there is a slight lateral motion of the knees, but essentially I need to turn my hips (in fact, most people will sense that their hips turn first during the downswing). Allowing the hips to turn will in fact uncoil the upper body allowing the club to “swing” through the golf ball sending you to a good finish position.
The whole idea here is to coil your body up in such a way that creates load or torque with your core muscles. If done properly, the unloading or downswing happens automatically and with greater ease by transferring your weight to your front foot and turning your hips.
Be sure that when you start you have a relaxed grip pressure. A relaxed grip pressure assists in taking control out of your hands and places it into how you turn your body. The bottom line is that you are now able to make a swing rather than create a hit. Ensuring you coil yourself up properly and therefore uncoil your body correctly will enable you to hit the ball further and on line. The bottom line will be lower scores and more enjoyment at the end of your game.
Play well and have a great week of golf.