I have written frequently in this space about tempo. Tempo is the foundation of the golf swing. Once you understand tempo, and have established for yourself the tempo that works for you, everything else can proceed.
The problem is how to apply that tempo consistently swing after swing after swing. We tend to get excited when we play golf. We like to hit the ball along way. Straight would be good, but too often that takes a back seat to the distance we want the ball to go, and because of that our ball striking gets compromised.
There is a way to swing with the same tempo from shot to shot, from the first swing to last. It’s a very neat trick and it’s a simple trick. The trick is to relax.
Relaxation is a mental activity. True you can relax the body, but you’ll only get so far by doing that. Relaxation begins in the mind. If you relax your mind first, then the body will relax to its fullest.
I know you’re relaxed when you stand at address. And I know you take the club back in a very relaxed manner. The key moment occurs when you start the club forward to lead the club into the ball.
That is the moment when you can think “hit” or something forceful like that and any relaxation you once had goes right out the window.
Let me give you suggestion. The next time you go to the range, tell yourself you’re going to make easy swings at the ball, say with a 7-iron. Take the club back and just before the backswing is completed, just a split second before, say to yourself out loud “relax.” Then swing the club forward.
There’s no physical hesitation here. You don’t have to interrupt your swing when you say the word relax. Say it while you’re in motion. Feel any tension releasing itself from your body, and feel the flow of swinging rather than the urge to hit. That is how you maintain your tempo.
One thing that is quite fortunate about the golf swing is that doesn’t take very much time. Your mind, once you give it a suggestion, doesn’t have a lot of time to go wandering off somewhere else.
It does have some time though, so you can still, how shall I say this politely, screw it up by thinking afterward about hitting or swinging hard or the like.
Thinking “relax” is not a guarantee. You have to acquire the mental discipline to follow it through. When you do, I think you will see your ball striking change dramatically for the better.
When you practice, go ahead and say the word “relax” right out loud. Maybe not loud enough that everybody in the range can hear you, but loud enough so you hear yourself give yourself the command.
Saying it out loud also helps plant in your unconscious mind the association between relaxing and starting the club forward. After all we play golf with our unconscious mind. Whatever is in there is what our swing will express, so let’s replace the wrong things with the right things.
After you start getting it you can say “relax” silently to yourself, but eventually you want to make this your habit and you don’t need to say it all. That takes lots of practice and reinforcement because this is a new habit you are trying to lodge deep inside your little hit-it-as-hard-as-I can brain.
I know you’re aware that the transition from the backswing to the forward swing is a great place to ruin your swing. What I have explained to you is a way to solve that problem. Your move.