As you dial in your iron game this summer, or whenever you’re practicing to get better, give the following three crucial golf moves a try as part of your routine. Over the years I’ve been teaching they’ve proven some of the most valuable and consistent ideas I offer my students, and they’ll work for you, too.
CRUCIAL MOVE 1: HEAD BEHIND THE BALL
I have been lucky enough to have spent quality private time with the great Jack Nicklaus. He took a liking to my talented daughter, Carly Ray, as she worked to be-come a dominant junior golfer in Florida, eventually winning the High School State Championship.
Jack spent half an hour at The Bears Club in West Palm Beach teaching her, and I took in every single word. Amazingly blessed, I know!
Anyway, Jack always stressed the one MUST in the downswing is that the head MUST be behind the ball at impact. He said poor players’ heads and upper bodies lunge forward and get ahead of the ball at impact.
As you can see in Photo 1, I’m executing a poor downswing. with my head way ahead of the ball. Poor ball striking will follow.
Look at Photo 2 closely. Notice that my head and eyes are behind where the ball was at impact, even after the ball has been launched. My weight is on my lead foot and hip but my head, eyes and up-per body did not lunge forward, ahead of the golf ball.
Please work on Mr. Jack Nicklaus’ tip to my daughter and I. Keep your head behind the ball at impact. This will assist every golfer on earth.
CRUCIAL MOVE 2: PURE ‘MAGIC’
If there is one crucial or “magic” move in golf, this is it. I recall seeing this as a young golfer when I saw the legendary Harvey Penick teach in Texas, when I played in Fort Worth and he was still alive and teaching. He stressed over and over again that if a golfer rehearses this move they can’t help but get better.
The ‘magic move’ is to begin your down-swing by SIMULTANEOUSLY letting your weight shift to your left foot while bringing your right elbow back into your body. This is ONE move, not two.
Look at Photo 3, which is far too typical. My right elbow is away from my body and my weight is rather flat-footed with no weight shift to my left foot.
Take a good look at Photo 4. This is the move you want to groove. My right elbow is into my body and my weight is on my left foot. My eyes are behind the ball. This will help every single golfer on the planet. You don’t even need a golf ball to practice this. Just groove this move in your home, office and take it to the course.
I also remember Mr. Penick said to always keep it simple. This is simple and crucial. I know this will help you hit the ball better as you learn it.
CRUCIAL MOVE 3: TAKE IT AWAY SLOWLY
Ah, the takeaway. I want to share this simple visual tip which will assist any golfer who practices it.
TAKE IT AWAY SLOW. The typical golfer will improve tons if they take the club away from the ball slowly and with soft hands. Hold the club softly, and remember that the first two feet of your takeaway can hardly be slow enough. The average player snatches the club away from the ball with tight hands and arms, and the club whips inside the ball too fast.
Look at Photo 5. Clearly the club is far too inside my hands as I whipped it away from the ball fast, with tight hands and arms.
See how in Photo 6 the club is much more in front of my body. The butt of the club is pointed at my belly button — much healthier position and on plane, as I took it away SLOWLY with soft hands and arms. This is what you should strive for.
I heard both the great Jack Nicklaus and legendary teacher/player Bob Toski tell my daughter that she hardly could take the club away from the ball slowly enough. GOOD ADVICE for everyone. Try this and I know you will strike the ball better.
Barry Goldstein teaches at Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill, Florida, and is a renowned coach to junior and collegiate level players throughout the southeast. He also teaches in his native Binghamton, New York, from May to October. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.