Category Archives: golf swing

Golf’s Prime Fundamental

This is a new way of calling everyone’s attention to my favorite subject—the handle leads the clubhead into the ball. I can’t wait to see what the search engines do with that title.

Notice I’m saying “handle” instead of “hands” like I used to. If you think of what the club is doing rather than what you are doing, you are much likelier to get it right.

If you do get it right, and at the right tempo*, you will find the center of the clubface much more often and hit better shots much more often.

Over the years I have given you several methods for doing this. They all work, one is not better than the other. Here, now, is a collection, with links, so you can see them all at once and make your choice.

Try one and if it doesn’t work for you, keep looking. But once you find the one that clicks, keep at it. Don’t go off and try something else. If it works, it works. Spend the rest of your time perfecting it.

Here they are, seven ways to get the handle ahead of the clubhead at impact.

1. Hold the angle – this is my earliest method.

2. The handle moves in harmony with the clubhead – focusing on the club, not on you.

3. The left arm never stops moving – sometimes it does.

4. Throw the club away – or at least swing like you would.

5. The end of the handle moves left – Imagine in the forward swing that the butt end of the club is moving straight across your body toward the target, and let that motion take your swing where it needs to go.

6. Swing the club with one hand – This is a drill really, making a half swing with a sand wedge, with one hand then the other. Unless you are incredibly strong and deliberately want to make the clubhead lead, the weight and momentum of the club will cause the handle to naturally go first. Apply the lesson of the drill to your two-handed swing.

7. Swing the club forward with your arms – Anatomically speaking, the arm is the upper limb between the shoulder and the elbow. That is what is meant here. Think of that meaning of the arms swinging the club forward, a concept championed by Manuel de la Torre.

Gary Player once said something along the lines of, Show me what you think is a fundamental of golf and I’ll show you a championship golfer who doesn’t do it. Maybe so.

Except this one. They all do this one.

* The fastest speed you can swing and consistently hit solid shots off the center of the clubface.

How to Hit Your Irons

With an easy hit. That’s how to hit your irons. Hit ‘em easy. The ball will go straight and land on the spot you were intending. Can you ask any more than that?

Yes, we all want to hit the ball long way. Distance is good. The longer you can hit the ball, the more options you have. The more you get out of the same effort.

But if you’re in the fairway 154 yards from the pin, instead of trying to force the ball up to the green, take out a club that will send the ball that far with an easy swing.

That’s why you have so many irons in the first place. Just pick the one that will carry the ball the distance you need with an easy swing. If you think you have to hit your best shot to get the ball there, you have the wrong club in your hand.

This is all predicated on knowing how far each iron carries the ball. However you determine your iron distances, determine them with an easy swing. If you accidentally (and it will be an accident) nuke one, treat it like the one you chunked 20 yards short. Leave them both out of the calculation.

At the range, use your bucket to find the joy in making one well-struck shot after another. Hang how far they go (in an absolute sense). If they’re well-struck, they’ll go far enough.

While you’re there, make sure you don’t pick up bad habits. If there’s a flag at 150 yards, don’t take out your 145 club to see if you can get that much more out of it. Take one more club and fly the ball 150 yards with a easy swing.

Now what is an easy swing? It is the swing made (a) at the tempo that lets you strike the ball on the center of the clubface consistently, and (b) begins going forward at the same speed that it went back—none of this easy back, then WHAM!

Swing the ball, not whack the ball. Swing easily. The only person who cares what clubs you use is you.

Your Hands Lead the Clubhead – IV

I’ve written often about the hands passing the ball before the clubhead at impact. I feel this is the most important technical matter of the golf swing, and have suggested several ways you can make it happen.

I constantly look for ways to make it easier to do, and more certain. Here is my next iteration. It involves the movement of the end of the handle, that and nothing more.

This new concept takes the onus off the hands to make sure of the leading, and assigns the responsibility to the club itself. The difference in effect is like night and day.

This was going to be a longer post, but everything I wanted to say is now in Bob’s Living Golf Book, sections A6 and H28.

Download the book and read those sections. Please.

Then team it up with a stationary suspension point, make sure your tempo is not too fast for you, and you will have a golf swing that performs beyond your wildest dreams.

Your Personal Swing Flaw

I won’t say this for sure, but I’m willing to bet you have a personal swing flaw—one thing that you do wrong, not because you don’t know better, but because it makes sense, or it feels right, or feels good, whatever. It’s wrong but you do it anyway.

You get it fixed, start playing better, and then your swing goes south again, and guess why? You’re doing that thing again.

That personal flaw will haunt you for your entire golfing career. Even touring professionals have one, and they spend time on the range combatting it.

If you have one, and you know what it is (if you don’t know, start looking, because it’s there), what to do?

There are two ways to deal with it. If the flaw is a matter of poor technique, you can create a new technique. If the flaw is the result of a personal tendency, it is easier to build in a compensation than to correct something that would be difficult to change.

I’ll use myself as an example of each kind.

My pet swing flaw is to take the club back too far inside. This results in swinging the club into the ball from too far inside, which leads too often to a duck hook or a weak push.

By taking the club back slower (new technique), I remind myself to take it back straighter and this flaw goes away.

My other flaw is that I do something that makes my hands turn over through impact, leading, again, to right-to-left ball flight that I don’t want. The number of corrections I have tried felt artificial or forced.

I finally solved the problem by agreeing to let myself keep doing whatever that is I’m doing because that’s just what I do, and trying to change it gets me nowhere.

A compensation is in order, then, and the simple compensation I came up with is to open the clubface about two degrees at address.

What I get out of that is a straight shot or a baby draw. The ball doesn’t go way left unless I just lose my head, which happens, but seldom enough that I can live with it.

So there you have it. Two ways to fix a persistent problem and become a better golfer in spite of yourself.

How to Swing Faster Without Really Trying

Want to swing faster? That is, want more clubhead speed? The easy way?

Relax more. And more than that.

Relax the parts of your body that swing the club–your shoulders, arms, and hands. Especially the shoulders.

This swing won’t feel powerful, but power is not what you’re looking for. Clubhead speed is, and you get it by taking tension out of your body.

Be careful, though, because you might get more clubhead speed than you can handle.

Your maximum tempo is the fastest you can swing and still hit the ball on the center of the clubface.

You can swing faster than that, but that’s exceeding your swing’s red line, and the extra speed won’t do you any good because you can’t control it.

Ignore all the things you see on YouTube about adding swing speed through technical fixes.

Just relax. That’s all there is to it.

The Suspension Point

[August 2019: I went to the LPGA tournament in Portland, Oregon at the end of the month. I watched every swing with this point in mind: does their suspension point move? In about three golfers it did, but they are ones who launch their lower body into the shot on the forward swing. EVERYBODY ELSE kept their suspension point still. It did not move. Jin Young Ko, Stacy Lewis, Georgia Hall, Morgan Pressel, Jessica Korda, Jeongeun Lee6, Anne Van Dam, Brooke Henderson, Suzanne Pettersen, Gerina Piller, and a host of players I hadn’t heard of, on the practice tee. It didn’t move.]

In order to hit the ball cleanly, the club has to return to the same place it was at address. This means the swing arc can’t be moving around during the swing.

The first part has to with the up and down location of the bottom point of your swing (Figure1). If you raise up when you take the club back, that raises the bottom point of your swing. Now you have the problem of getting it back to where it was you started–not too far back down, and not staying too far up. Who can get that right from swing to swing?

The second part has to with the side-to-side location of the bottom point (Figure 2). It’s real hard to get ball first-ground second contact when the swing keeps bottoming out in a different spot, relative to the location of the ball.

Again, the problem is to keep the swing arc from moving around during the swing. The solution was developed by Paul Runyan and explained in his book, The Short Way to Lower Scoring.

Runyan talked about the suspension point of the swing, around which the swing turns. He identified it as the big bone at the base of your neck (C7 vertebrae).

Read about it in my book, Bob’s Living Golf Book, section C16.

One year at an LPGA tournament in Portland, I stood behind the players on the first tee, so I was looking at their back. I kept my eye on the suspension point. With player after player, it didn’t move until after the ball was hit and they rose into their finish. It didn’t move up and down, it didn’t move side to side.

It didn’t move.

How Take a Practice Swing

The practice swing is a rehearsal swing. It should be the swing you want to copy when you hit the ball. I’ll show you how to make sure your practice swing is exactly that.

When you swing the golf club it is often true that your mind is not fully engaged. Your body starts moving and leaves your mind behind. It should actually be the other way around. Your mind should move first, and then the body follows.

The way to make that switch is to swing the club twice without a break between the two swings. You make one swing all the way to the finish and with a continuous motion swing club back from there make a second swing to the finish. One motion, two swings. 1,2.

The purpose of the second swing is to let your mind catch up. You will find the mental feeling you have during that second swing to be very different from the one you had in the first swing. You will as a result feel a swing that is not only much different than the first one, but will be the one you want to hit the ball with.

When you have done this step up to the ball, take a quick look down the fairway or at the green. Return your eyes to the ball and without hesitation swing the club away. Because your mind is moving ahead of the body, the body will have no choice but to perform the way the mind remembers from that second part of your practice swing.

Doesn’t this take extra time, though? Everyone says in order to speed up play you should only take one practice swing. Well, you are. It’s just that your one practice swing has two parts. This two-part swing hardly takes any longer than a normal one-part swing. So you’re not really taking any extra time by doing this.

A pro once told me that this extra time, if there is any, will be more than made up for by you hitting better shots which means hitting fewer shots, and that, friends, saves time.

The key point here is that a two-part practice swing lets you find your best swing. It is certainly possible for that to happen with a traditional practice swing, but few people are capable of doing that. Give yourself a chance to get it right by taking one two-part practice swing.

Throw the Golf Club

[August 2019. I’m keeping this post here for historical purposes, but you are better off reading The Hands Lead the Clubhead – IV.]

In their book, How to Become a Complete Golfer, Bob Toski and Jim Flick tell this story:

“There was once a pupil at our golf schools who, when he was instructed to release the clubhead through the ball, threw the whole club down the practice range. So we have to be very careful to define what we mean by release.”

Well, releasing the club is one thought, but today’s thought is throwing the club and it isn’t a bad idea. Or, at least, swinging as if that is what you were going to do, but not letting go of the club.

This does four things for you:

1. It gets you off your trailing side and onto the leading side during the forward swing,

2. It guarantees the hands will lead the clubhead into the ball,

3. It gets your mind off hitting the ball and puts it on swinging the club,

4. And because of that, it evens out your rhythm and tempo.

Those are four very good things to have built into your swing because they are the solutions to four prevalent swing problems.

If you would like to give this a try, it is easiest to do at first with a driver swinging at a ball on a tee. You don’t want the ground in the way on this one right now.

The idea is to feel like the function of the forward swing is to throw the club directly at your target downrange, but without actually doing it. Get the feeling of a smooth throwing motion and then try hitting a few balls.

Shawn Clement has a really good, and short (for him) video on this very idea.

So try it out. It’s a different way of thinking about how to swing the club, and maybe something will click for you.

My Conception of Golf Technique

Over the years I have sprinkled certain themes throughout my posts. I say them over and over because they work—not only for me, but for everybody.

To save you the trouble of searching for what you might not know is even there, here it all is. This post summarizes my thoughts. If you do all these things (and there aren’t many) you will play better golf.

The Swing

Control your tempo by starting the club forward at the same speed with which you brought it up.

Do not let the suspension point move.

Your hands must lead the clubhead into the ball. Accomplish this by feeling the butt end of the handle moving leftward from the start of the forward swing through impact.

Short Game

With a chip and a pitch, think of sliding the sole of the club underneath the ball. Do not hit down on the ball.

With a chip, use one swing and several clubs to regulate distance.

With a pitch, use two or three lengths of swing (your choice) and several clubs to regulate distance.

Putting

Hit the ball on the sweet spot of the putterface.

Let the length of the backswing be the sole distance generator.

Technique is less important than mentally bearing down the hole.