Friday, April 20, 2007
Fact Or Fiction?
The truth about golf instruction
Fiction: One Ball Position Suits All
Not quite. When Jack Nicklaus mentioned that he used one ball position, he didn’t necessarily mean one stance. Instead, he likely referred to one ball position relative to where each club bottoms out, which changes for a variety of shots. Why? A few reasons. First, clubs of different lengths reach the bottom of the swing arc in different places—longer clubs bottom out farther forward in the stance than shorter clubs. Second, longer clubs are, well, longer, requiring you to adjust how close or far you stand from the ball.
Fact: Adjust Your Ball Position
A good rule of thumb is to always assume that with a longer club, it’s better to have a ball position that’s too far forward than a ball position that’s too far back. Begin by first evaluating the length of your club, and with a few practice swings, find the spot on the turf where the club is consistently bottoming out. Then, in the spot just before the bottom, mark your ball position. Do this for each club, and notice how shorter clubs bottom out farther back in your stance than the longer ones.
Fiction: Improve Balance With Better Footwork
This myth is a little tricky. Good footwork is generally a prerequisite for good balance, but sometimes it’s possible to have decent footwork while having an unbalanced swing. For instance, some golfers assume that poor balance is due to an improper weight shift. To alleviate the problem, they start from the ground up and assume that a better weight shift is the key to fixing their balance issues. This includes sliding the weight “onto the back foot, then transitioning to the forward foot on the downswing.” (You’ve probably heard that one before, right?)
Fact: Better Balance Is Achieved Through Posture
If you really want to improve your weight shift and overall balance, you’ve got to start with the correct posture and maintain it throughout the entire swing. Check out the photo. You’ll see I’ve retained my spine angle through impact. That angle (the forward lean of my upper body toward the ball) is vital to allowing my arms to swing freely, as well as to allowing my hips and shoulders to rotate through the hitting zone. If I had bad posture, it would be tough to sync up my moves. In other words, imagine the body as a series of strings. The neck, back, legs and arms all should function like taut rubber bands—firm but flexible. As you initiate the backswing, maintain your spine angle. Do the same during the downswing, and you’ll see results fast!
Tom Leese, PGA, is a Master Instructor at the Resort Golf School at Angel Park in Las Vegas, Nev. For more info on how to book a lesson, visit www.angelpark.com.
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