Considering the fact that Jim Furyk is the second best-ranked player in the world and he’s in the top five on the PGA Tour in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation, there’s really no need to take apart and analyze the unorthodox movements in Furyk’s unique but effective golf swing. Instead, let’s look at the good stuff we all can learn from perhaps the most underrated major championship and 12-time winner on the PGA Tour. (By the way, he’s definitely going to win a lot more.) Here you’ll see Furyk near impact as he warms up during a crisp Los Angeles morning at the Nissan Open.
A square putterface and a straight-back, straight-through path are crucial fundamentals for a solid stroke. These two elements control direction, which is undeniably one of the two most important aspects of good putting. However, perhaps the most important fundamental, rhythm, is often overlooked. Rhythm establishes the steadiness of the putting stroke and is the main factor in controlling distance and speed. Rhythm is the heartbeat of a good stroke, and is at least as important, if not more so, than any other aspect of successful putting.
The biggest challenge for a golf student is to feel the proper mechanics. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to experience the feeling of the most important moment during the golf swing: impact.
The well-worn cliché “drive for show, putt for dough” is familiar to
most golfers, but heeded by few. Hitting big drives is, in fact, often
the most desirable accomplishment in the game for many recreational
players, most of whom are less concerned with score than the bragging
rights that accompany a long drive. Players who are interested in
shooting good scores, however, know that accurate driving, or
strategically positioning the ball off the tee, is a critical part of
playing solid golf, and sometimes mandates the use of different clubs.
Amateurs have problems hitting crisp iron shots due to two fatal flaws.
First, the takeaway tends to be too low to the ground, which delays the
proper hinging of the wrists until too late in the backswing. Second,
in a misguided effort to create power, the arms tend to swing too far
in the backswing. This causes a breakdown in posture and usually leads
to a reverse pivot. These flaws cause mis-hits and a lack of distance
It goes without saying that the players who compete on the PGA Tour are
the best in the world. Not only do they have impressive natural talent,
but every guy out there spends a tremendous amount of time and effort
working on his technique, strategy and fitness. For those of us not
fortunate enough to be able to spend all day, every day improving our
all-around game, this opportunity seems like a dream come true. For the
players on Tour, however, it’s a job that they take seriously, and one
that’s both extremely competitive and tough.
Old-school golf instruction is full of imagery that was originally
created to help players make what were perceived as the the proper
moves in the swing. In those days, many of the technical aspects of the
golf swing weren’t completely understood, largely due to the lack of
video technology that exists today. Instead, players mostly relied on
feel, natural talent and repetition to hone their technique and overall
game. Not surprisingly, the average scores of recreational golfers
barely ever improved significantly, other than what was delivered by
technological advances in equipment and golf course conditioning.
Solid short-game performance is key for any competitive golfer, and an absolute must for those fortunate enough to play on the PGA Tour. Jerry Kelly, who ranked 16th in scoring average with nearly $1.5 million in earnings after 15 events (as of mid-July) knows this fact well, as illustrated by his proficiency at saving par after missing a green in regulation (he currently is second on Tour in scrambling).
Even golfers with technically sound swings make mistakes due to poor execution or bad decision-making. But on the whole, golfers with solid mechanics are able to consistently play solid shots because their technique allows them to do so.
Like any aspect of the game, improving your bunker play takes practice. But practicing the wrong technique will do little but further ingrain whatever mistakes you’re already making. As a result, instead of getting better, you’ll probably just get worse. The good news is, the fundamentals of solid sand play are actually pretty simple, and can be learned quickly provided you take the time to make certain your setup and execution are correct.