One of the best comments I ever read on a golf forum was to “slow down your swing and learn to live with the extra distance you get.” The reason eluded me until recently.
I got the November 2018 copy of Golf Digest magazine. You know, the magazine that has playing tips every month that work for world-class professionals, but not for you?
Here’s one that did work, and it was from Daniel Berger. He said you’re never going to get the distance you’re due until you learn to hit the ball off the center of the clubface, and he gave us a drill to work on that.
He said to hit balls with your 7-iron (everybody’s favorite club) at 30 percent of your normal swing speed until you start connecting with the center of the clubface consistently. Then move up to 50 percent, then 70 percent.
Thirty percent is pretty slow. If it takes you one second to go from takeaway to impact, that’s now three seconds from takeaway to impact. Pretty slow.
He also mentioned you would be surprised at how far the ball goes even with those slow swings if you hit the ball on the center of the clubface.
That rang true to me, so I went to the driving range I live next door to. Actually it’s not driving range, but the Oregon State Fairgrounds. It has a big field that is used for a parking lot that is 560 yards long and 235 yards wide. I go there every day and hit a few balls.
So I went out there with a 7-iron and a few golf balls to try this tip, swinging at what I felt to be 30 percent. Slowing down that much is harder than it sounds, but I think I got it.
Wow. Triple wow.
Berger is exactly right. Slowing down the swing makes it easy to get centered contact and when you do, the ball flies off the center of the clubface, and goes farther than you could imagine it would.
I’m working up slowly to a faster speed, but only so fast that I can still make contact on the center of the clubface.
I my Living Golf Book, I define tempo as “the fastest you can swing through impact and consistently hit solid shots off the center of the clubface.” Berger’s drill is a fantastic way to find that tempo. (Yes, I’ll be revising LGB accordingly for December 1.)
Try it. You’ll find that tempo doesn’t have to be very fast to hit shots that go straight (slowing down your swing takes the tension out of it, which is what introduces many of your swing errors) and to a distance I know you can live with.