Archives for September 2010

Golf Swing Mechanics – The Head & The Swing

There exists some debate among golf professionals as to what constitutes the true role of the head in proper golf swing mechanics.

Some golf professionals argue proper golf swing mechanics mandate that the golfer keep the head totally still during the execution of the swing pattern – allowing the golfer to maintain constant target acquisition.

Other golf professionals take an opposing view, believing that keeping the head still detracts from swing performance – restricting and inhibiting free movement of the body during the swing pattern.

When it comes head positioning and golf swing mechanics, each golf professional holds fast to their own opinion on the matter.

In his book, “Golf Can Be an Easy Game”, author Joe Novak offers his expert opinion on the proper role the head plays in winning golf swing mechanics.

Novak writes;

“At no time throughout my years of instruction do I remember consciously asking a pupil to keep their eye on the ball. I feel that the player will naturally look at the ball because that is their target, so why bother telling them to do it. Of course, the real reason so much stress is placed on keeping your eye on the ball is that your head will stay still. I disagree with this suggestion, because if one holds their head extremely still they restrict and inhibit a nice free action in their body.

In the natural course of movement in a golf swing, the act of shifting one’s weight to the right foot does straighten that knee. As the diagonal stretch action of the body is used to raise the club to the top of the swing there is an added straightening of the entire right side. In other words, the combination of shifting the weight to the right foot plus using the right side of the body to carry the club to the top of the swing, automatically produces a certain erectness or straightening of the entire right side. Under the influence of this action the head position is raised as the backswing is made. Then as the weight shifts to the left foot, there is a momentary drop of the entire body position, and consequently the head naturally lowers slightly. However, after the weight moves to the left foot and the left side is used to bring the club through, there is a decided straightening of the left side and again the head is raised slightly.

In other words, the head goes higher as the backswing is made, temporarily drops to a slightly lower position as the downswing starts, but again raises as the swing is completed. Any attempt to hold the head absolutely still restricts this natural body action. Hence I have never asked a pupil to hold their head still“.

The head plays an important role in executing the proper golf swing mechanics for a winning swing!

Use Novak’s expert advice to properly incorporate the head into your swing pattern!

Check back soon for more tips and posts to help improve your golf swing mechanics!

Improve Golf Swing Performance – Don’t Wrestle with the Wrists!

To improve golf swing performance golfers must properly understand the function of the wrists and their role in the swing pattern.

Using the wrists to improve golf swing performance is easy – just let them be.

The wrists, left to their own devices without any added influence, will automatically perform their duty – providing their unique purpose to the swing pattern, that is, acting as a link.

Understanding to use the wrists in this capacity is crucial for golfers to improve golf swing performance.

In his book, “On Learning Golf”, author Percy Boomer offers some expert advice regarding the true function of the wrists in a winning golf swing pattern.

Boomer writes;

“The fluency of the swing becomes greater as the swing gathers speed, and when the ball is swept from the tee, the flick of the wrists (hateful expression) has become a violent sweep—violent because of it’s force, a sweep because of its fluency.

We are told and have evidence in the “flickers” that the wrists open as we come into contact with the ball, but this opening is not something that the wrists do, but something which they cannot help happening. And the art lies not in making the wrists open but in postponing their opening as late as possible.

As the club head arrives in the region of the ball, our body (because of its comparatively short degree of action) has already got back into its “opposing” position, with left heel back on the turf, left side straight and firm, and right hip twisted into the left one—the whole giving a sense of secure brace to the whole body. By this time the arms are already half-way down, but the wrists are still pulled back. But now owing to the forward pull of the hips and the gathering momentum of the club head, something must happen—and what happens is that we can no longer keep the club head from flying past the ball.

We have done everything possible to delay the club head and to inhibit wrist movement, but finally the club head gets out of control (this is literally true) and flashes through the ball as if mad with rage!

Now this is as it should be. We purposely set up a state that would leave the club head free and unchecked in this region of the swing, and we must see to it that we do not interfere in any way with its ferocious passage through the ball. There will almost inevitably be some tendency to rigidity due to local necessities in this region (as in the initial take-up), but we must not feel the slightest check or guide attempting to control the club head. Let its furious assault die away into a perfect follow through.

Do not hold or check or guide the club head but keep the left side firm and rigid and play on around it. That is the only way of keeping the fury of the club head on the right path. You have unleashed a storm, and all you can do is to control the center from which came its force and from which it will die away. Feel centered and balanced.

If after reading the foregoing you come to the conclusion that the best thing to do with your wrists is nothing at all, my exposition has been successful.

Since probably no one has told you before that your wrists are only a link, you cannot be blamed for not having realized it!

Too many people try to do something with their hands, thinking this to be wrist action. But when you analyze it, there is no deliberately induced action in the golf swing which corresponds to the mythical “flick of the wrists.” Anyway, the word flick is appropriate when we speak of removing ash from a cigarette—but utterly out of place in a movement which sweeps a golf ball two hundred and fifty yards down the fairway.

If you have built up a good powerful central organization around which you whirl your club, the more you leave your wrists to their own sphere of activity the better will be your stroking. And the proper sphere of activity of your wrists is to act as the link in the flail with which you sweep the ball away”.

To improve golf swing performance, golfers must understand the proper function of the wrists in a successful swing pattern.

Try incorporating Boomer’s advice into your golf swing practice routine.

Check back soon for more posts and tips to improve golf swing performance!

Beginner Golf Swing Instruction – Lining Up the Shot!

An important lesson in any beginner golf swing instruction program is learning to correctly line up the shot.

Lining up the shot can pay huge dividends to the golfer!

Beginner golf swing instruction programs know – during the pressures of play – student golfers will accidently skip over many pre-swing processes which include but are not limited to lining up the shot!

To combat this oversight beginner golf swing instruction programs teach their student golfers to follow a simple procedure – that is – taking the time to position the body and club properly to the ball. This is critical to overall swing performance.

In the book, “How to Master the Irons, an Illustrated Guide to Better Golf”, authors Gene Littler and Don Collett provide some beginner golf swing instruction – walking the golfer through a simple procedure designed to quickly line up the shot.

They write;

“Golf fans are often amazed at the ability of a professional to hit the ball straight and far down the fairway. The accurate drives and pinpoint placements on approach shots are seemingly magical feats which the average golfer believes to be beyond his capabilities.

This, of course, isn’t true. A golfer, if they have some working knowledge of the swing, can learn to hit the ball fairly straight, provided they have aligned themselves properly to the ball. Actually, lining up a shot is a simple little procedure, and it pays great dividends to those who work to perfect it.

Lining up a shot is not a difficult thing to learn. To do it correctly, you must “aim yourself” first, that is, position your body in proper relationship to the ball and then “aim the ball” by aligning the clubface so that it faces directly toward the hole. Here is how it is done.

The Procedure

The pattern of movements involved in lining up a shot begins as soon as you pull a club out of the bag and grip it. A good player works themselves into a rhythm for lining up each shot, whether they are going to hit with a driver, a five-iron, or a wedge. They set up a habit pattern of approaching and addressing the ball, and all of their conscious efforts are directed toward lining up the shot correctly. From there on, they depend chiefly upon their reflex actions and the subconscious feel of the swing to bring forth a straight ball.

To begin, grip the club and position yourself slightly behind and to the left of the ball. From this position, you can size up the hole and get a good perspective view of it while thinking of how you want to hit the particular shot before you. Keep your arms in close to your body. The arms actually hug the chest and the hands are about six inches away from the body and directly in front.

After determining where you are going to aim, as well as the type of shot you want to hit, move your feet in a bit closer to the ball. At the same time, bend forward at the waist so that the clubface will come in contact with the ground directly behind the ball. Then, after ensuring that the clubface is square, or at a right angle to the line of flight, rotate your head toward the target to make sure you have positioned yourself properly up to this point. The left foot is then moved just a few inches directly toward the target, and the right foot moves back and slightly to the right to give you a square stance.

For fairway woods and long iron shots, I employ the closed stance, in which my right foot is moved back about an inch or so. This permits a fuller body and shoulder turn than the square stance”.

Beginner golf swing instruction programs know how important lining up the shot is to a successful golf swing and golf game.

Incorporate Littler and Collett’s advice into your next practice session.

Check back soon for more beginner golf swing instruction articles and posts to help quickly improve your golf swing and game!

Proper Golf Swing – The Left Fingers – Pointing You To Better Swing Performance!

A proper golf swing begins with the hands – more specifically the fingers!

The fingers play an immense role in creating a proper golf swing.

The fingers directly connect the golfer to the club. They are charged with the responsibility of providing the golfer with both club feel and control.

In this article we’ll point to the fingers of the left hand and explain their contribution in shaping the proper golf swing.

In the book, “The Master Key to Success at Golf” author Leslie King discusses the fingers of the left hand and their rightful place in executing a proper golf swing.

King writes;

“How tightly should the club be gripped? You hold it firmly enough to maintain control, firmly enough not to stifle the feel of the club head which you must acquire, firmly enough not to freeze or lock the wrists.

You must fight against what may be a natural tendency to apply a vice-like grip. I have already described how the left thumb is pressed with a “gentle firmness” on the shaft. That is the degree of pressure to be applied to the grip as a whole a “gentle firmness” in contrast to a vice-like seizure of the shaft. Too tight at address invariably means too slack at impact.

Now I return to the fingers of the left hand. You know now that the main pressure will be in the top two or three fingers of the left hand and the two middle fingers of the right.

My personal conviction is that many teachers and writers of text books on golf tend to over-emphasize the left little finger. The player is urged to concentrate on wrapping this left little finger round the shaft, but I prefer to put the emphasis on its next-door neighbor, the longer and stronger finger, for two reasons. In the case of the majority of people the little finger is very short and has limited strength because it is so rarely used in the various tasks which the hands perform in the general activities of life.

Secondly, too much applied pressure with the little finger of the left hand has a stiffening effect on the wrist. Take a club and try it for yourself. Do you not detect a definite tightening in the wrist?

Now switch your attention to the next finger, the third finger of the left hand which you will notice is quite a bit longer and undoubtedly stronger than the little one.

When you wrap this third finger firmly on the shaft the little finger will still fulfill its rightful task of augmenting the security of the left hand-grip, but you will feel (with the third finger dominant) that the wrist retains its suppleness and the power in the left hand-grip is concentrated more through the centre of the hand.

If any finger is the master finger in the left hand-grip it is the third finger, more suited by nature for the job.

I can cite the case of a scratch golfer to illustrate this fact. During the war this player had a mishap which deprived him of the use of the left little finger which remained permanently bent over. He thought this was the finish of golf for him. He could not even place the little finger on the shaft, but a year or two after the war he was persuaded to give it a try once more.

Almost at once he began to hit the ball well, resumed playing with a handicap of 3, was back to scratch in no time at all, and won his county championship and this with a useless little finger he could not even place on the club. His salvation was the third finger of which he had full use.

Until your hands have been strengthened and trained you may find the correct form of gripping in all the detail which I have described strange and uncomfortable. With this may come a tendency towards a vice-like grip and an urge to spread the hands on the shaft. Resist both these temptations. Instead, strengthen your hands. Train them to the point where the correct grip will give you a feeling of confidence and security throughout the swing“.

A proper golf swing begins with correctly using the fingers of the left hand to provide the right grip on the club!

Use King’s professional advice to help improve the feel and control in your swing pattern!

Check back soon for more articles and posts to help you achieve a proper golf swing!

Golf Swing Tip – “Putting” It All Into Perspective!

Putting is one of the most complicated departments of golf where more than one golf swing tip is easy to find.

A valuable golf swing tip however, is one which helps the golfer put putting into a more realistic perspective.

To maintain their sanity, golfers must have a reliable method of approach which helps keep both their putting expectations and frustrations in check.

In the book, “The Winning Touch in Golf, A Psychological Approach” author Peter G. Cranford, Ph.D. dispenses a golf swing tip to help golfers improve their putting game. His golf swing tip could make all the difference in your golf game!

Cranford writes;

“Putting is the most difficult part of the game. If one is not realistic in this regard, they will fail to take the steps which will bring about improvement.

Putting is difficult because it is highly complicated, fully as complicated as three-cushion billiards—and perhaps more so. In fact, Willie Hoppe, who mastered billiards, was astonished that he could not overcome his poor putting. This is not too difficult to understand. His table was small; greens are large. The table was absolutely level; greens never are. The cloth on the table was always of the same speed; greens vary almost from hour to hour. He played on one table; a golfer plays on 18 different greens. Hoppe played in a calm atmosphere; in golf, the weather can change from cold to hot, calm to windy, dry to humid, etc., in a matter of minutes. On the billiard table skill generally wins; on the green, luck is often decisive. In billiards there is virtually no problem of grip, stance, stroke, or type of cue to be used; in golf, the variations are almost endless.

Although we are aware of the danger that this emphasis on difficulty may affect the very confidence which is reputed to be essential for good putting, no progress can be made unless we first face the facts. Even if there is some lessening of confidence at first, this will be better compensated for by relying more on putting practice than by believing that wishful thinking will cause putts to drop. My own experience has been that the more I tried to generate false feelings of confidence, the more careless I became, and the more putts I missed. In fact, I seem to make many of my long putts at unpredictable times—probably because of the laws of chance.

After we accept the fact that putting is a difficult art—a game within a game—it is much easier not to be discouraged. If we know a trip will be long, it is much easier to accommodate to it than if someone says that the journey is a short one and it turns out not to be so. In addition, when the difficulties are overcome, our competitive position is much safer than it would be if the difficulties did not exist at all“.

A golf swing tip which puts putting into perspective can help golfers handle their frustrations and get more enjoyment from their game!

Incorporate Cranford’s professional advice to help you putt to your greatest potential!

Check back soon for more golf swing tip articles and posts!

Golf Swing Mechanics – The Press and Its Role in a Winning Swing Pattern!

Executing a seamlessly smooth, well coordinated and highly potent swing is the essence and overall goal of golf swing mechanics.

Winning golf swing mechanics require the golfer to correctly execute both the forward and reverse press. Together they maintain balance, generate power and synchronize all the various moving components – blending them all into one fluid, well timed expression of the club.

Unfortunately, many golfers struggle to correctly incorporate these two actions into their golf swing mechanics.

In his book, “Golf Can Be an Easy Game”, author Joe Novak describes in greater detail the roles of the forward and reverse press and their rightful place in winning golf swing mechanics.

Novak writes;

“The swinging of a golf club is a double-handed, ambidextrous motion which completely involves the player from toes to fingers. It is this all encompassing involvement of the player in a properly executed golf swing that gives a golfer that completeness of ease, grace and rhythm.

Being the two-legged creatures we are, it is understandable that to swing the club up and to the right we should balance ourselves on the right foot, and to swing the club down and to the left, we should rebalance ourselves on the left foot. However, at the very outset of the golf swing a quandary is presented.

In assuming the initial position from which to start the swing, the natural position for the hands on the club places the right hand in the lower position on the club handle. This invariably causes the player to relax the right knee slightly and by so doing the player finds their balanced on the left foot. As long as they remain balanced on the left foot, it is unnatural to move the club from the ball.

However, through the simple process of the forward press, a slightly added forward movement of the right knee, the player can make a complete change of knee positions and balance on their right foot. Thus they can use their entire right side from hip to shoulder to lead their body into the diagonal stretch action, whereby the club can easily and naturally be raised to the top of the swing.

This handling of the knees—the forward press and the reverse press leave the player so balanced, when the top of the swing is reached, that it is possible to reverse the knee positions and thus rebalance the player on their left toe. The entire left side from hip to shoulder can then be used to lead the body into the diagonal stretch action to the left, so that the club can be brought down into and through the ball with a full, free, powerful movement.

There is no shortcut to this one-two action of the forward press and the reverse press and it will set the body up so that it can follow in perfect timing with the movement of the up and down swing.

In addition to balancing the player so that they are ready body-wise to go into the swing, the one-two of the forward press and reverse press accomplishes one other thing. It moves the hands in a slight forward movement and carries the hands back. It thus places them in a perfect position so that the hands can set or cock the club into position, in harmony with the upswing action of the body.

There is no shortcut to this one-two action of the forward press and the reverse press. Not only will the body be set up so it can swing the club up on the inside, but the hands will be put in a position where their action of cocking the club into position can be synchronized.

Incidentally, it is this four movement rhythm which made Bobby Jones a golfing master“.

Winning golf swing mechanics require that the golfer correctly perform both the forward and reverse press.

Use Novak’s expert advice to properly incorporate the forward and reverse press into your swing pattern!

Check back soon for more tips and posts to help improve your golf swing mechanics!

Improve Golf Swing – Building A Better Swing At Your Address!

To truly improve golf swing performance all golfers need to perform a close examination of their address.

The address reveals much about a golfer’s handicap and quality of movement – signaling to the world the level of golf they are capable of playing!

Golfer’s looking to improve golf swing performance need to fully understand that a correct address shapes the perfect swing pattern from beginning to end.

Shaping the perfect swing pattern is essential to improve golf swing performance. It is through this shaping that the golfer learns to feel their swing.

In his book, “On Learning Golf”, author Percy Boomer offers some expert advice to help golfers improve golf swing performance. He explains, in great detail, the address to the reader – helping them put feeling into their form.

Boomer writes;

“The experienced eye can make a very accurate guess at the handicap of a player after seeing them make a few practice swings, and as soon as their address is completed we can be sure of their quality.

Now at first glance it might seem that it would be simple enough for anyone to learn to stand correctly before the ball—to cultivate an impressive address. Yet there is this difference which enables the cognizant to recognize even the subtle variation between the good and the very good golfer before the ball has been struck.

It is an interesting point and one of some practical importance, because it is directly related to the true aim and purpose of the preparatory movements. We can recognize a golfer’s quality in these movements because they express both what they intend to do and how they intend to do it. The difference between the good and the ordinary golfer is that the good one feels their shot through their address.

Whether or not they have learned deliberately to play by feel, the good player feels, through their carriage and balance as they addresses the ball, the coming movement that will bring their club face squarely against the ball. Briefly to analyze the feeling of carriage and balance—they feel they are set inwards and behind the back of the ball and their legs, hips and shoulders are all braced, inside and behind the ball.

Now this is a point where I must ask you to stop and consider and analyze carefully exactly the meaning I want to convey by the word braced because this is most important to a realization of the correct feel of the body.

My dictionary defines a brace as “anything that draws together and holds tightly,” and I think that is clear and that it expresses the feeling we have when we are braced. But you may try it and promptly come back with the question, “But how can I feel braced and yet not become stiff?” A very pertinent question, and I will try and give you the answer.

When we take lessons in deportment we are told to walk with our hips pulled in, in other words to brace our hips. Yet we know that this does not make our carriage stiff; it makes it not stiff but firm and decisive.

So also, when I tell you as you address the ball to keep your elbows close together, you will immediately feel a sensation of drawing in your elbows the one towards the other. As a consequence your arms will not feel like two separate and independent arms but like a linked united pair of arms; yet they will not feel stiff. The “holding together” of your shoulder blades holds the top of your structure together and links up with the power from your hips. You will find your biceps being pulled into your thorax, your shoulders and arms being drawn together, and, if then the stomach is drawn inward, one definite (inward) direction of brace is set up.

The second direction in which we brace our bodies at the approach is upwards, yes upwards, towards the sky! The natural tendency as we stand to our ball is to droop from our hips and curve our backs. But if we are good golfers we resist this tendency by an upward brace—slightly bent over but pulled up to our full height and neither drooped nor curved.

Set like this we will feel our left side as straight as a poker, though not as stiff as one, and our left foot pushing down into the ground. Of course as the weight is equally divided between the feet, this pushing down is a feeling in the right foot also. The result is a highly desirable one; as a reaction to our upward brace, we feel ourselves standing firm as we address the ball—a thing we are frequently told to do but rarely told how to do!

So with our hips, shoulders, and arms braced and the body stretched upwards and braced, we no longer feel a loose, flabby, drooping figure but an upright and yet compact one. But we have one more direction of brace to add—this comes from the hips and I can best describe it as a twist forward which completes the bracing up of the whole body at the address.

As we stand to the ball our feet must not be too wide apart; the right foot should be at right angles to the line of flight, the left one pointed slightly out; a line across the toes of both feet should (like the line between the shoulders) be parallel to the line of flight. From this position, we twist our hips round (horizontally) to the left, not as far as they will go but as far as they can go in comfort, i.e., without pulling our hips out of shape. How far this is depends on how supple we are. Probably the degree of movement will be only slight, but the effect of this forward leftward twist is to tauten up the whole body without stiffening it.

Because we are anchored, first by our feet to the ground and secondly by our square-set shoulders held up against the forward pull of the hips, the right knee does not resist so we find our left side straight and our right side bowed inwards. And these, left side straight and right side bowed in, are very definite feels which come from (and can be used to check) correct bracing.

These three directions of brace should now make us feel a complete unit, which we can think of as “the set.” I think they are what makes the good golfer feel compact. They give the feeling that we can carry the club head back away from the ball by the body twist inwards and behind the back of the ball. In other words, if you are properly braced there will be no sensation of wanting to lift the club head up. This is important; we should never feel that we lift the club head, but that we carry it back around with the body and along the ground.

This feeling that the club head keeps down is equally necessary in the follow through, after we have sent the ball on its way. We must feel that we have dispatched the ball out and along but not up“.

Improve golf swing performance by examining where it all begins – at the address!

Try incorporating Boomer’s advice into your golf swing practice routine.

Check back soon for more posts and tips to improve golf swing performance!

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