It probably has happened to all of you at one time or another. You're in the middle of an otherwise solid round of golf when suddenly it all heads south, and no matter what you try, nothing can get your game back on track. It's a frustrating experience, and one that’s sometimes made worse by trying to "right the ship."
The words “weight shift” can cause a lot of confusion. For starters, a weight shift isn’t something that you should forcibly do; rather, during the swing, your body weight should shift naturally as you make a proper turn. Any manipulation of weight from side to side is a mistake.
The perpetuation of the many myths in traditional golf instruction has led to countless injuries, inconsistent results and a world of frustration. Simply swinging the golf club in the way that the body is designed to move will lead to greater consistency and greater enjoyment for a significantly longer time.
Talking about your swing plane is one thing, but seeing it on video is a whole lot better. Here at the TOUR Academy, we make an effort to film golfers from face on and down the target line so they can see for themselves whether their swing is on plane or not. The benefits my students get from seeing their swing plane on camera has greatly helped them improve.
There are countless possible flaws in the golf swing that can lead to an endless variety of bad shots. However, in my 14 years of teaching golf, there are a few recurring swing flaws that afflict both amateurs and touring professionals alike. These flaws lead to a series of negative chain reactions during the swing and eventually wreak havoc on one’s ability to make a repetitive and powerful golf swing.
Four things you shouldn't copy from today's top touring professionals
It’s no secret that you can learn a lot from watching the world’s best golfers. They hit some amazing shots, make incredible putts and hit the ball extraordinary lengths. And while there’s a lot of swing cues we should try and copy from the pros, there are four things I think most amateurs have no business trying to duplicate.
For greater consistency and power, control that right knee
The golf swing’s a funny thing. Sometimes it’s racked with errors, yet somehow, at impact, everything is where it needs to be and the ball shoots off powerfully in the direction you intended. Other times, every shift, angle and hinge is perfect, yet a small misstep on the way to the ball results in shots that can only be described as horrific. In the first instance, Lady Luck is certainly on your side, but as we all know, she rarely hangs around for too long. And the fact that a single hiccup can bring your whole technique crashing down is, to put it bluntly, just the way golf is.
No matter where you are, where you go, or more appropriately, whom you end up playing golf with, it seems there’s always someone nearby who I like to call “the resident E.O.E. (Expert on Everything).” You know the type. It’s the fellow who knows how to help you increase your net worth and can explain how to install new copper pipes in your house without having to cut drywall. This same guy also watches a lot of golf on TV, and because he hears one or two commentators analyzing someone’s swing, he assumes their advice is well suited for you, too.
No matter how hard you work at achieving a technically sound golf swing, once in a while you’ll encounter a small flaw that causes your shots to run amuck. One of the most overlooked and easy-to-fix mistakes golfers make involves the position of the hands at the top of the backswing. For all intents and purposes, you can have a perfect weight shift, a great arm extension, a powerful coil, and the perfect head and spine position, but if you don’t have your hands holding the clubshaft properly at the top of the swing—well, the downswing may as well be doomed from the start.
Over the years, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the proper position of the right elbow at the top of the backswing. Some players like John Daly swing with their elbow flying out, while others like Sergio Garcia keep it in, proving that it’s possible to hit great shots with either method. However, my biomechanical studies with PGA Tour pros using the K-Vest, developed by Bentley Kinetics, indicate that the flying right-elbow position favors a fade ballflight while a tucked right elbow promotes a draw.
Elementary tips and do-it-yourself teaching aids for keeping your swing in shape during the off-season
When it comes to posture, the key is to establish your natural spine angle, which will allow the body to rotate freely throughout the golf swing. A good training aid to help improve your posture can be fashioned with a broomstick, sponge, six-inch ruler, scissors, pen and a belt.
If you’re one of the millions of golfers who battles a slice, odds are you compensate for the left-to-right ballflight by aiming to the left. However, no matter how far to the left you aim, the ball still slices to the right—sometimes worse than it did before. On the occasion you do hit it straight, well, it doesn’t do you much good because you were aimed toward the trees or deep rough on the left. Hmm—you’re doing what you think will fix the problem, but it’s only making the problem worse.
Undoubtedly, the most embarrassing tee shot in golf is the drive that pops straight up, barely clearing the tee box. The pop-up is an agonizing mis-hit most often caused by an excessive forward weight shift on the downswing and a club that approaches the ball on a very steep angle of attack. The steep descent de-lofts the clubface to such a degree that the topline of the club effectively becomes the leading edge. The result? Not only a humiliating pop-up, but one of the most hated marks in golf: a scuff on the crown of the clubhead. Yuck.
If you tend to skull your fairway woods, it’s because you’re catching the ball on the upswing, often caused by trying to scoop or lift the ball up. To fix this problem, you have to understand that solid ballstriking is sometimes a game of opposites. To hit the ball higher with a fairway wood, you actually have to hit down—as opposed to up—on the ball.
You’re enjoying a great day on the links, and you have an easy pitch to the last green where a par or even a bogey will give you your best score in a month. Easy pitch, easy swing, stick it close. But instead, some evil dragon maliciously guides your hosel toward your ball, and you shank it right of the greenside bunker. The shot so unnerves you that you proceed to shank a succession of shots around the perimeter of the green counterclockwise.
As an instructor, one of the most common swing flaws I see is the dreaded reverse pivot. This move wreaks havoc on any golfer’s ability to hit consistently good golf shots. One of the best ways to overcome the reverse pivot is to try a drill designed to make it impossible to hold your weight back on your downswing. I call it the baseball drill, or the “Happy Gilmore,” named after the title character in the film who steps into the golf ball the way a field goal kicker lunges toward the ball.