Category Archives: golf swing

Swing a Golf Club Every Day

Swing a golf club every day, ten, twenty times. Don’t worry, you can do it inside and you won’t hit the ceiling.

Swinging every day is how you remember what your golf swing feels like, and that’s the important thing, not the technique of the swing, but the feel of the technique.

When your swing deserts you it’s because you forgot how it is supposed to feel.

Swing a golf club every day so the feeling becomes natural, a part of who you are, what just comes out when you move the club.

Anyone Can Hit a Long Ball

This is the title of an article by Mickey Wright in the February 19, 1962 Sports Illustrated. I recommend that you read it.

The link goes to the SI vault, where entire issues are archived. At the web page you get to when you follow the link, click on ORIGINAL LAYOUT. Then click on the number 96.

That will send you to a reproduction of the original magazine. The article begins on page 35, but it is worth your while to get there page by page to see what SI used to be like and what kind of features they have. In the following issue there would be an article on the fiberglass vaulting pole which had just been introduced to much controversy as John Uelses was the first person to vault over 16 feet. Notice that horse racing and wrestling are covered. At the right time of year so was yachting.

Pay attention to the golf ads. On page 13, Wilson Sporting goods, back then major player in the golf equipment world as well as all sporting goods, has in its ad the announcement that it has introduced the first fully matched set of golf clubs. At that time, this was really new and something special.

Also the Wilson Staff golf ball was the Pro V1 of its day. MacGregor, another major sporting goods company put out the ball the Jack Nicklaus played. His contemporaries wonder how many additional tournaments he would have won if he had had a decent ball to play with.

I always liked to read For the Record and Faces in the Crowd (read about Louis Moniz), on page 83. The weekly college basketball write-up like the one beginning on page 84 is sorely missed. In season, major league baseball and college football got the same treatment.

See also the letter to the editor on page 88 titled, A Hole In 10. And after that one, read about Terry Baker, the finest athlete Oregon has ever produced. I saw him play football twice and basketball once.

Anyway, Wright’s article is full of good advice, and browsing through the magazine is great fun. I’ll leave you with her thought that anyone can drive the ball 200 yards if they do what she says. In the early 1960s, 200 yards was a long drive for a recreational golfer. How times have changed.

You Can’t Hit a Golf Ball Straighter Than This

A number of years ago, when I experimented with a new swing idea every week, instead of every other week like I do now, I tried out something I came across in a golf forum–the Lee Trevino swing.

You know, wide open stance, odd takeaway, odd lurch through the ball. At least that’s what it looked like to me.

The forum post quoted from his description of the swing in an issue of Golf Magazine, so I tried it. It took a few weeks to get it down.

But the proof of a new idea is the golf course, not my back yard.

I played nine holes with this swing, and had one of three ball flights: straight, straighter, and straightest, right where I was aiming. I never got Trevino’s fade, just absolute straight. No complaints.

I have never hit the ball so straight for such a prolonged period. I think I only flubbed one shot. It seemed so easy.

Unfortunately, and there is always one of those when things are going well, when I was finished playing my back hurt. After a practice session in the back yard, my back hurt. So all that adds up to letting a real good thing go, because it wasn’t worth it to me.

But then, I had a bad back already, so maybe if your back is all right you can figure out this swing and use it for your own on a tight hole where your only option is a straight drive, for example.

This is the GM description (emphasis and comment are mine):

YOU CAN LEARN TO HIT MY FADE

Here is a simple method that will help you develop an accurate left-to-right shot

By LEE TREVINO

Golf Magazine, December 1979


“I almost always “push” the ball. That’s the easy way to think of my fade, as a push/fade to the target. Very little can go wrong: Your wrists can’t roll over and surprise you with a snap hook. You don’t have to worry about releasing early or late, because, in effect, you don’t release at all. And you don’t need to fret about a “double cross” aiming left and hitting farther left by mistake. With my method, the ball drifts to the right every time.



“To begin, make sure your shoulders, hips and feet line up to the left of your intended target with the shoulders slightly less open than the hips and feet. Aim the clubface at the target, open to your body alignment. Play the ball about one to two inches inside your left heel and start the club back along the target line. This will put the club on an inside path in relation to your body.



On the forward swing, shift your hips laterally toward the target and swing the club down on the target line, holding your release and keeping the clubhead on the target line well after impact. [And you don’t turn your hips until after you have hit the ball.] You should have the feeling of swinging very much inside-to-outside and in fact, you are.



” ‘Inside out?’ you might ask. ‘Doesn’t that cause a draw?’ Yes, it does, but only when your swing is inside out in relation to your target line. This swing is inside out in relation to the body alignment, but straight back to straight through in relation to the target line (see illustration). You won’t draw the ball with this swing. If anything, you will contact the ball after the club has swung down and back to the inside on the forward swing, thus putting a slight left to right spin on the ball.



“So you have two big pluses here: First, you have an inside to outside attack in relation to your body. This is much more powerful than the outside-to inside swings that many amateurs use to fade the ball. Second, you have the club moving down the target line, producing either a straight ball or slight fade. You can’t beat that combination.



“Here’s a trick that might help you understand this a little better. After you set up, imagine that there are three golf balls in front of the one you’re about to hit (see illustration). For the fade, you want to hit through all four balls. This will force your right shoulder down rather than around on the downswing, with your arms extending toward the target on the follow through. Keep in mind that the right shoulder doesn’t dip. That would cause fat shots. Instead, the shoulder simply swivels underneath the chin. As a result, you will hold your release, keep the club moving down the target line, and push the ball to the hole, with very little sidespin.



“I have, however, encountered one “problem” among people who have tried this method. They say to me, ‘Lee, when I swing your way, I hit the ball way to the right.’ I just tell them, ‘Aim farther left.’ Don’t open your stance more; just shift your entire orientation to the left. In other words, rather than aim the clubface down the fairway or at the pin, aim it at an intermediate target more to the left and shift your body alignment farther to the left as well. There’s no rule that says you have to aim down the middle. Line up for the trees on the left and push it down the fairway. It’s easy, when you know for sure that you can hit the push/fade.



“The beauty of the balls in a line image is that you can use it to draw the ball, too. For the right to left shot, line up your body parallel to the target line and aim your clubface at an intermediate target to the right, to allow for the draw. Then, simply think of picking off the first ball in line, the real ball, without touching the three imaginary ones. This brings the right shoulder and club up quickly in the follow through, and whenever the club and shoulder move up, they go counterclockwise as well, which closes the clubface. Result: a draw.


“Try my method. You’ll see how easy it is to fade and draw the ball. You’ll always know where the ball is going. And in golf, there’s no substitute for accuracy. I can vouch for that. A key to hitting consistent, solid fades is to keep the right shoulder moving down under the chin through impact.”

The Ball Is Your Target

If you have been reading this blog long enough, you know I go off in odd directions from time to time. I try to do things differently because anybody can do things the same way.

Where I really have fun is in doing things they say you shouldn’t do. Most of time when I try it, I find out why you shouldn’t do it.

But every now and then I find out that they’re all wet. This is one of those times. At least it is for me.

Everybody says the great players are in love with their target–that fairway out there, or that spot on the green. Yes. I agree. The problem as I see it is that they are referring to their target as something a long way away where the ball is supposed to go.

Let’s just hold on for a second and think about this. Sure, I want the ball to go someplace over there, but what do I have to do get it there? (This is not a trick question.)

I have to hit the ball! Doesn’t that make THE BALL my target? I don’t see how you can say otherwise.

Actually, my target is not even the ball. It’s a spot on the ground one inch in front of the ball.

If I hit that spot with the sole of the club, the ball compresses against the clubface like they all talk about, the ball takes off like a rocket, and I get great distance in the direction I intend.

That kind of impact has a unique sound and feel I know you have experienced many times before.

So instead of building a swing that delivers that perfect impact as a byproduct, WHY NOT GO DIRECTLY FOR WHAT YOU WANT? Why not build a swing that starts with that sound and feel and works outward from there?

It’s not hard to do.

Try this drill, which teaches you to focus on and hit the spot where the sole of the club should first contact the ground—about one inch in front of the ball.

The point is, after you start the club forward from the end of the backswing, to be aiming at that spot on the ground in front of the ball. Make it your conscious intent to hit it with the leading edge of the club and let your swing adjust to that end however it does.

Work on it with your 7-iron, everybody’s favorite practice club.

What about your driver? Set up leaning your torso slightly toward the right (toward the left, for left-handed golfers) and put the same swing on the ball. The lean will cause you to miss the ground and hit the ball on an upswing, which is just what you want.

The Importance of the Finish of Your Golf Swing

What you do as you swing into the ball dictates the position you will be in at the finish of your swing.

To say it another way, to get to a particular finish position, you have to do certain things swinging into it.

When you don’t hit the ball to your liking, you can try correcting the things you do before impact, or you can take a different approach.

Try to finish the swing in a different way. Aim to be in a different position than you normally are when the swing is done. That will automatically force you to do something different beforehand to get there. That might be the only corection you need.

Example. I am a right-to-left golfer, often to a fault. I don’t know what a slice looks like. I am, however, on first-name terms with duck hooks.

Whenever I hit one of those disgusting shots, at the finish my hands are pulled way over to the left and the clubshaft is almost horizontal.

The solution? I aim for a finish that has my hands up high and in front of me, and the shaft is almost vertical. By swinging with getting to that position mind I automatically do different things beforehand to get there and get a straight shot out of it.

If you’re a slicer, maybe you need to end up with your hands more around you than up in front of you–the opposite of my correction.

Try it. It might be just that simple.

Ernie, Fred, and Vijay

Let me point you to a video that shows four key swing principles very clearly. It is of Ernie Els, Fred Couples, and Vijay Singh warming up.

You will have to watch it several times to see all of what is there.

What you will see right off is their perfect rhythm and tempo.

Then notice how their arms stay together instead of flying all over the place.

Then notice how their suspension point does not move.

Finally, and it’s hard to see, but it’s there, their hands get back to the ball before the clubhead does.

If you are hitting the ball well, keep doing it. But if you aren’t, you might consider putting these four things into your swing.

Percy Boomer’s Essentials of the Golf Swing

For years I have been reading Percy Boomer’s book, On Learning Golf. Every year I get something new out of it. In chapter III he lists what he considers to be the essentials of the swing. They never really connected with me until I read the list yesterday.

I realized that quite by coincidence they are all contained in my writings, either Six Fundamentals of the Recreational Golf Swing, released in 2014, or A Basic Golf Swing, released earlier this year. If you have read those two pieces you’re already familiar with them. Here they are.

1. It is essential to turn the body round to the right and round to the left, without moving either way. In other words this turning movement must be from a fixed pivot.

(If you keep the knob at the base of your neck from moving until after the ball is struck, you will have this. In chapter VII boomer explains this point as turning in the barrel. This book is the origin of that image.)

2. It is essential to keep the arms at full stretch throughout the swing―through the back swing, the down swing, and the follow through.

(I describe this point as getting your elbows close together at address and feeling as if they stay that close together throughout the swing.)

3. It is essential to allow the wrists to break fully back at the top of the swing.

(They break by themselves because of the momentum of the golf club’s movement. Do not do this deliberately.)

4. It is essential to delay the actual hitting of the ball until as late in the swing as possible.

(I have described this for years as the hands leading the club head into the ball.)

5. It is essential not to tighten any muscle concerned in the reactive part of the swing (movement above the waist).

(“Maintaining a state of complete relaxation in your arms from start to finish, especially though impact, contributes greatly to attaining the swing speed you are capable of.”)

6. It is essential to feel and control of the swing as a whole and not to concentrate upon any part of it.

(“Dividing the swing into parts is done only to present the differing techniques that must be applied at each of its stages. The golf swing is really just one whole movement.”)

Boomer follows point 6 by saying,

“In a sense this last point is the most vital. The swing must be considered and felt as a single unity, not as a succession of positions or even a succession of movements. The swing is one and indivisible.

There you have it. That is Boomer’s list. It does not include rhythm and tempo in his list, though he does have an entire chapter on rhythm later in the book.

Slow Swings Are Good Swings

Almost every time I play, one of the persons in my group says how much they like to watch me swing. What they like about it is that I have simplified it so much, all extraneous motion has been eliminated. It is just swing back, swing through. Very simple.

The other thing they like, though only the most perceptive notice it enough to comment on it, it that the swing is slow. Not sluggishly slow, but there-is-no-hit-in-this-swing slow.

That’s easily explained. If I swing any faster than I do, I lose control of the swing and it falls apart. It goes in directions it shouldn’t. And the ball follows suit.

This is what I get from my slow swing. The ball goes where I want it to, and I get a surprising amount of distance because I hit the ball on the center of the clubface a lot.

Every recreational golfer should try it. Slow down your swing so it feels easy. Graceful. Especially through the impact area. Especially there.

And see what happens.

Relaxing Your Arms When You Swing the Golf Club

We all know that tension leads to poor ball-striking. We try to hit the ball hard when we really should be hitting the ball fast. You get fast for no extra charge when you are relaxed, especially your arms.

But it is hard to relax your arms. They might be relaxed at the start, but they tense up as you swing.

That’s because you’re thinking of relaxing the wrong thing. To have relaxed arms, you have to have relaxed shoulders.

At address, relax your shoulders. Now when you take the club back, keep your shoulders relaxed. One sign that you are doing this right is that they do not lift up. Think that they stay down.

At first, it might feel like you are lowering them, but that is because raising them is your habit.

I promise you if you learn have relaxed shoulders throughout the swing, you will get free clubhead speed with no extra effort. Less effort, actually.