Too many golfers are given a wrong idea about the golf swing. The idea is a double whammy — it makes the swing unnecessarily complicated and produces poor shots. The wrong idea is that we should use our hands during the swing to scoop the clubhead under the ball.
As can be seen in the photos above, when we scoop with the right hand, we effectively shorten the club. Now instead of the leading edge of the club brushing the grass under the ball, the leading edge is elevated and contacts the ball at the equator and we skull the shot.
Or, you can do as I’m doing in the upper photo at right, drop the right shoulder and reverse pivot to lower the club so it goes under the ball. However, when you do this the clubface has so much loft that the ball pops up and does not carry the needed distance. You can see in the photo how the ball has too much loft and therefore not enough carry—a typical fluffed shot.
The solution to skulled and fluffed shots is to simplify your swing. Make the swing without the scooping action. Improvements in a golf swing mean changes, and changes mean finding a way to do something differently from your habit. I will give you two ways to make the change quickly.
First, with no ball, over a period of a week make 100 swings in sets of 10 from three feet before the address (backwing) to three feet after the address (follow-through).
Second, use a metal coat hanger to make a small soccer goal about eight inches tall and place it about three feet in front of you (see lower photo at right). Using a 7-iron, make “no scoop” swings with the intention of rolling the ball under the soccer goal. When you do you will feel very solid contact and the loft of the club will propel the ball over the top of the goal—but your intention is to roll it under.
This “no-scoop” swing is the action that will optimize your swing for all your clubs. Watch the players on tour. You will see swings with a lot of variation. However, you will not see any player using a scooping action — it’s unnecessarily difficult and it produces poor shots.
Henry Stetina, PGA is responsible for golf instruction at the PGA Golf Management Program at New Mexico State University as well as Director of Instruction for Red Hawk Golf Club in Las Cruces.