Golf Article

Fine-Tune Your Stroke

Fine Tune Your StrokeThe ability to control putterhead speed translates into the ability to control the speed of the ball and, ultimately, your ability to make more than your fair share of putts. If your control has become shaky, here’s a two-part drill to help you get the ball rolling at the speed you desire.

Drop a coin on the practice green, then place a ball about 10 feet from the coin. Now, survey the terrain from the ball to the coin. Make note if it’s an uphill, downhill or level putt. You should also note the break—is it straight or a left-to-right- or a right-to-left-breaking putt? Now, from behind or next to the ball, create a dynamic, mind’s-eye picture of the speed necessary to get the ball to stop no further than one putterhead-length past the coin (about four and a half inches).

Your task is to roll three putts from the same distance and stop all three within the space of the putterhead behind the coin. You can place a coin one putterhead-length behind the first coin to help you visually judge the exact distance.

One Hand Control

One Hand Control In everyday life, we rarely use both hands to accomplish a motor task. This is one of the reasons why putting with just one hand on the handle can yield positive results.

A drill I give many of my students who are having trouble getting the ball on line is to place a ball at a distance of no more than three to six feet from the hole. Your job is to attempt to make the putt with just your right hand on the putter handle. After attempting five to 10 putts with your right hand, repeat using just your left hand. 

After the left-handed putts, note which hand is more of the control hand. This is the hand you felt more comfortable with or the one that got the ball in the hole the most consistently. 

Often, it’s your dominant hand, which should be no surprise. There are a few golfers who feel the non-dominant hand (the left for right-handers) is better at controlling the ability to get the ball started on line. Whatever is the case, work to get both more capable of controlling the putterhead. If one hand is clearly the winner, it may not be prudent to spend much time on the other hand.

Get Reckless

Get Reckless Most power tips I share with readers of Golf Tips® have to do with the physical components of generating speed and power in the golf swing. For this issue, the power tip is a mental one.

What I refer to as “bringing your power to the tee” is more of a frame of mind than a matter of swing mechanics or technique. To hit your longest and straightest drives, you must be mentally geared up to unleash your potential power. This holds true whether you’re playing a $2 Nassau with your buddies or competing in the finals of the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship.

You can’t go deep if you’re filled with fear or anxiety about the outcome of the shot. You can’t hold on to the club through impact, instead of releasing it down the target line. You can’t try to steer the ball, instead of allowing it to work toward the target. And you can’t come to a tight driving hole and start staring at the OB stakes on the right or the water on left, instead of narrowing your focus to an intended landing spot.

Focus On The Finish

Focus On The FinishMany amateurs are so consumed with anxiety about the incremental parts of the golf swing (grip, alignment, posture, setup, etc.) that they lose sight of the overall objective, which is to strike the ball squarely and forcefully. Let me suggest a method to alleviate this anxiety: Focus on the finish.

If you take the time to study, analyze and critique your finish position, you’ll develop an idea of where your swing needs to go—not to mention increase the likelihood of actually making it happen.

Here’s a drill that ingrains the feeling of a good finish position. Start with the club at address and swing it forward to the finish. Hold that pose for several seconds and then repeat the address-to-finish move. Let your natural tempo dictate how slowly or quickly you swing the club. As you pose, check that the finish elements at right are in place.

A golf swing without a finish position in mind is like a car trip without a destination. You’ll wind up going around in circles.

Connect The Rights

Marshall IllustrationIn the boxing world, the fighter who can connect his rights has a good shot of knocking out his opponent. In golf, the same holds true, but instead of crosses and uppercuts, you need to connect your right hip and shoulder, a move that augments your balance, puts greater power into your swing and otherwise facilitates a pure, on-plane motion.

On the backswing, it’s imperative that you turn your shoulders, but against a stable lower body. In the vernacular of golf instruction, teachers like to use the phrase “turn your shoulders twice as much as your hips.” This is a solid philosophy that generates tons of coil, i.e., potential energy that can be unleashed into the back of the golf ball.

Alter Your Focus

Alter Your FocusOne of the first lessons most golfers learn is to “keep your eye on the ball.” I’m here to offer a better suggestion: Move your eyes behind the ball.

Heresy, you say? I don’t think so. That’s because when a golfer makes his or her backswing with a full turn of the shoulders and a proper shift of weight, the center of his or her chest, or sternum, will be well behind the ball. (Exactly how far behind the ball depends on an individual’s suppleness and flexibility.)

If a golfer moves to his or her right side during the backswing, yet keeps the eyes locked on the golf ball, there’s a good chance he or she will change his or her spine angle or fall into a reverse pivot, either of which is a huge power leak. That’s because the eyes automatically tell the golfer whether he or she has formed a bad relationship with the ball and he or she will have to “reach” or “stretch” to get back to it.

A Call To Arms

Call To ArmsEvery golfer will experience periods of inconsistent ballstriking, low confidence and a general sensation of swinging out of sync. For these times, I offer a quick fix: Quiet your lower body, and concentrate on swinging the golf club with only your hands and arms. 

Timing issues that can wreck a golfer’s confidence tend to crop up when he or she makes too many gyrations with his or her body, like turning and twisting the upper torso or overworking the legs. When golfers try to use their whole body to move the golf club, often they have no chance of making consistent contact or creating ample clubhead speed.

One of my favorite drills provides an immediate remedy for an overactive body. Make a few practice swings at quarter-speed and half-speed, slowly working up to full speed, keeping body movement to a minimum. Internalize the sensations created by the simple motion of the arms swinging the club back to the top and dropping into place on the downswing. As Charlie Sorrell, a former PGA teacher of the year, likes to say, “The hands are for holding, the wrists are for hinging, and the arms are for swinging.”

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