Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life -

1 is a text­book-per­fect grip the cor­ner­stone of a great swing? Not nec­es­sar­ily. I’ve seen play­ers with per­fect grips who can’t find the planet. It’s all about match­ing the grip to your im­per­fect swing.The pur­pose of the grip is to hold onto the club, not ma­nip­u­late it.

2 i’m not a fan of per­fectly square align­ment for the av­er­age player be­cause it takes a per­fect shot to hit it where you’re aim­ing. I’d ad­vise most am­a­teurs to align their feet a lit­tle left with their irons, as it favours hit­ting down on the ball. With the driver, they should align their feet a bit to the right, with the club­face aimed at the tar­get. This will pro­mote swing­ing from the inside, and hit­ting the ball “on the up.”

3 i liken the golf swing to a car. Your body is the en­gine.The arms, hands and the club are the steer­ing wheel. Your brain is the driver and pro­vides the fuel. When we start hit­ting poor shots, more of­ten than not the prob­lem is the car’s transmission, which is the shoul­ders. Poor shoul­der move­ment is a huge cause of in­con­sis­tency. Any com­mand from your brain to your arms and hands can’t be obeyed if it’s not trans­fer­ring cor­rectly through the shoul­ders.

4 the most com­mon cause of slic­ing: over­turn­ing the shoul­ders. If they turn be­yond what you’re rea­son­ably ca­pa­ble of do­ing, the mus­cles don’t ac­com­mo­date the swing­ing of your arms. Ev­ery­thing gets out of sync and the arms swing down on a poor path, usu­ally one that’s ex­ces­sively out-to-in. So what’s the cor­rect shoul­der turn? One where you keep the right shoul­der low; the up­per part of the right arm point­ing down at all times. Turn un­til you feel re­sis­tance, and then sim­ply un­turn the other way.

5 the best drill in golf is hit­ting balls with your feet to­gether. It helps your bal­ance enor­mously, and bal­ance is the key to power, con­sis­tency and prac­ti­cally ev­ery­thing else. As you swing, think of main­tain­ing a ver­ti­cal line through three parts of your body: (1) The knobby bone at the top of your spine. (2) A point just be­hind and be­low your belly but­ton. (3) The cen­tre point be­tween your feet.

6 if a chap in a pub were to ask how to add 10 me­tres to his drives, my first sug­ges­tion would be to start from 10 me­tres be­hind the ball, then run up and hit it. Se­ri­ously, though, I think there are two things any golfer can do: (1) Get your hands higher on the back­swing to widen your arc. (2) Make your swing longer so you have more dis­tance to ac­cu­mu­late speed.

7 there’s no such thing as mus­cle mem­ory. Mus­cles don’t re­mem­ber any­thing. Still, it all starts by struc­tur­ing your mus­cles prop­erly and re­peat­ing the cor­rect mo­tions. That way, the mem­ory of the mo­tion is trans­ferred much more read­ily.

8 strug­gling with pitch­ing off tight lies? Stop try­ing to drive the ball for­ward. Don’t try to force the club­head into the ball with your hands, and never lean the shaft for­ward through im­pact. Sim­ply turn your shoul­ders a lit­tle go­ing back, then al­low the club to fall into the ball and into a small fol­low-through. Also be sure to turn the club­face down and into the ball through im­pact. Feel like you’re “col­lect­ing” the ball nat­u­rally, rather than forc­ing the is­sue.

9 in the years padraig Har­ring­ton was win­ning ma­jors – which he might win more of yet – I never saw him get an­gry over a bad shot. Even to this day, in­stead of get­ting mad, he gets cu­ri­ous. Within a mil­lisec­ond of a bad shot, he turns his at­ten­tion to the next shot. As he’s walk­ing, you might see him puzzling over the swing that got him in trou­ble. But it’s in a cu­ri­ous, con­struc­tive way, not an an­gry one. Anger is the most un­nec­es­sary cause of bad shots, and the eas­i­est to ad­dress.

10 want to hook a child or novice adult on golf for­ever? Get a put­ter grip, one that is flat on top. Slip it onto a 9-iron. Tee a ball low, then tell them to keep the flat part of that grip fac­ing them through­out the swing. They’ll be as­ton­ished – and so will you – by how well this works. It in­grains a fan­tas­tic mo­tion and prac­ti­cally guar­an­tees solid con­tact. After I tried this with a strug­gling stu­dent some years ago, she had put­ter grips in­stalled on all her clubs. Some­one sniffed to me, “But the grips aren’t le­gal.” I replied, “It’s ei­ther this, or she quits. Which do you pre­fer?”

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