Category Archives: golf swing

Tips for Tall Golfers Revised

Being a tall golfer means that much of standard golf instruction needs to be modified. I’m 6’6″ tall, and while this has never seemed like a handicap, I do have to approach the golf swing differently than shorter golfers do.

Start with equipment. You should have your clubs fitted. Off the rack ain’t gonna work. They might have to be longer and get bent a few degrees upright.

During the setup, you will have a narrow stance. The traditional separation of your feet is to place you insteps as far apart as the width of your shoulders. This might be too far apart for you.

A tall golfer must stand as tall as he can.* Do not bend over and reach for the ball. By bending over too much, shown below, you create angles in your swing that make it difficult to maneuver the club effortlessly, but still full of power.

To stand taller, as shown below, you will have to stand closer to the ball. The way to stand taller is to elevate your hip at the same time you bend over from it. Bend over, but not down. When you bend your torso forward it should feel like your backside is coming up.

Make sure your upper body, especially your abdomen, does not collapse. Your back should be as straight in the address position as it is when you stand upright. Your head can fall forward, but only enough that your neck does not feel rigid.

Your swing is primarily a hands and arms swing. It should be easy for them to carry your body around to a ninety degree angle from address. The elbows should stay close together in their address relationship throughout the swing to keep the swing from becoming too loose.

Your swing is going to be more upright, feeling like it starts back and up from the ball instead of back and around.

Because your swing is longer, it takes more time. Let it. Do not rush it, especially the forward swing. A slower tempo will allow all of its parts to come together in their proper time.

There is a tendency for a tall golfer to slide the lower body through through impact rather than turn. This leads to pushing the ball because your arms are blocked from swinging the clubhead straight toward the target.

To counteract that tendency, begin the forward swing with a turn of your hips, followed by the swing of your arms, as two separate movements.

Pay extra attention to balance. It will be easier for a tall golfer to get out of balance while swinging a golf club than someone who is not altitudinally gifted.

In general, tall golfers have swings that appear graceful, flowing, and effortless. I get compliments on the appearance of my swing almost every time out. We get the same job done with much less effort. Enjoy it.

*I’m using the male pronoun given the likelihood that few of my female readers are six-and-a-half feet tall.

Take the Hit Out of Your Swing

I have to remind myself of something constantly. And it’s not to keep the lid to the toilet down. I have that one figured out.

It’s rather to stop trying to hit the ball a long way by hitting it hard.

I have written about this before. But as I said then, this advice is difficult to remember.

Today in my backyard driving range, after hitting about ten plastic balls not really that well, I decided to just make my swing feel like a walk in the park.

I hope that means something to you, because it did to me. It didn’t result in slowing down my swing that much, if at all, but it made my swing flow better. That’s the best way I can describe it.

The result, of course, was a dead center hit that made a loud crack against the clubface instead of a muffled whatever. Ball flight? I’ll take it any day.

Just too make sure that wasn’t pure luck, I did the same thing again and got the same result.

Find a way to build this idea into your game in a way that means something to you.

And then do a better job of remembering it than I do.

A Critical Angle in the Golf swing

Sometimes you read there are angles in the golf swing, and that the key to a good swing is to maintain those angles. I agree whole-heartedly.

What those angles are is the important point. There is one I have been working on for a while that is paying big dividends. It is the angle shown in the picture below, made by the clubshaft and arms as seen from a down-the-line point of view.

That angle need to be preserved throughout the swing. If it is, the hands and the club will return at impact to where they were at address. That’s a good thing.

So now I’m going to say something that contradicts what I just said: You can’t really maintain the angle throughout the golf swing. Try it. You get halfway back and you’re stuck. When you swing back, your arms have to fold, your wrists hinge, and there goes that angle.

But what shouldn’t change is the feeling of that angle. Even though it has in reality become much smaller (more acute, for those of you who stayed awake in geometry class) it feels like it is still the same. That’s the important part.

Then when you swing back down, the angle will reappear.

What do you get from this? You get, when you combine it with the hands leading the clubhead, not only straight shots (no or minimal curvature) but accurate shots–the ball goes where you were aiming.

How hard is this technique to learn? I had the feeling figured out in about five swings. (Hint: I started out thinking I as doing it with my hands, but realized it was more the hands and arms together.) Then you will need to hit balls to get used to it in action.

I would recommend learning the feeling by making half swings with a 9-iron at a slower tempo than usual. When you start getting it, work into longer clubs and longer swings, concentrating at all times on the feeling of maintaining the angle.

When the feeling is good and uniform throughout the bag, then start hitting balls.

You’re welcome.

The Nothing Golf Swing

I’m going to remind you of something that I know has happened to you many times.

You’re in the fairway standing over the ball, your mind seems to be blank, you swing the club, and hit a tremendous shot and think to yourself, “Where did that come from?”

This happens a lot at the range, too. The first ball you hit with just a warming up swing is the best of the bucket.

The reason these things happened is that there was Nothing your mind.

I didn’t say there isn’t anything your mind. That’s different. There is something on your mind, and the name of that something is Nothing.

You’re not thinking of technique, you’re not thinking of results, not anything like that. You have cleared you mind of all that, but have not emptied it. Was you are thinking about now is Nothing.

What I mean by this is the feeling of a moving mind. that, and how to obtain it, are through described in Chapter 2 of my book, The Golfing Self.

The following golf-oriented exercise shows you a way to obtain this feeling.

I want you to take two practice swings, but without stopping between them. Start in your address position, then swing back, through, back again from there, and through a second time. Back through, back, through, two full swings in a continuous motion.

The first swing will probably be a bit clunky, like you’re trying to make a swing, but the second one will be quite relaxed, graceful, and, well, just a swing.

If you just let the second swing happen, you will have the feeling of Nothing in mind. At that point, step up to the ball and start your stroke with that feeling of Nothing still in mind. Go right away. If you delay too long, the feeling will fade away and you will be right back where you started.

Don’t hurry, just don’t dilly-dally. Step up to the ball and go while the feeling is fresh.

Practice this at home without a ball (of course). A lot. What you might have thought to be a random occurrence can become a reliable feature of your game.

How I Hit Fairway Woods

Now that we have dumped long irons for good, the new bad boys in our bag are fairway woods. I couldn’t hit those off the ground, either, so when hybrid irons came along, I switched and that made a huge difference in my long-distance game.

But still, I took fairway woods to be a challenge because they can’t be THAT hard. Turns out they are.

So I went to YouTube and looked at a lot of videos about how to hit fairway woods and tried the tricks. No luck.

The next step was to figure it out myself, which I love to do, because I usually come up with something I haven’t heard before that works.

I thought, where are the hard parts?

The first hard part is that the club is so much longer than irons are. When we swing one we don’t feel the connection between our hands and the clubhead, which makes us worry about even being able to get the clubhead on the ball.

The problem is that your hands are on the wrong part of the handle. You have to be holding the club at its balance point. Then you will feel clubhead in your hands even though is is over three feet away from them.

Second hard part: the loft of my irons gives me great confidence that I can get the clubface under the ball. It seems all we can do with the FW is bounce it off the ground behind the ball and get nothing much out of the shot.

We still have to be hitting down somewhat, to get the ball first-ground second impact. You do that by thinking of where you want the clubhead to hit the ground, not behind the ball or at the ball, but a bit in front of it.

And of course, your hands must be leading the clubhead.

There is a one last thing, though, which should go without saying.* Use your standard golf swing. Do not think you have to do something different to get the ball in the air or hit the ball a long way.

Use your standard swing with your standard tempo and your standard rhythm and let the club do what it was designed to do.

Maybe fairway woods aren’t part of your game. You prefer hybrid irons and you don’t even have a fairway wood. No matter.

You have to have a decent swing to be able to hit a decent fairway wood shot off the ground. It’s worth learning to hit this club for this reason alone. It will improve everything else.

*I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody says, “It should go without saying…” and then says it anyway.

Finding the Center of the Clubface

I devote this blog to giving you my opinions on what to do and describe to the best of my ability how to do it.

Most of golf instruction is about getting the causes right to attain the desired effects, but that doesn’t always work. If it did, because of all the great instruction out there, everyone would be a single-digit handicapper in their spare time.

Sometimes we have to skip the causes and go right to the effect. Learning golf’s most critical skill is one of those times.

I have tried many drills you can find on line about how to find the center of the clubface. I wanted to see if they worked.

They didn’t. The common fault is that the drills involve a complicated setup that has nothing to do with being on the tee box or in the middle of the fairway with just you, a club, and one ball. We’re going to try it my way.

I want you to do two things. Start with a iron you hit well enough and slow down the swing. Slow it way down. That’s the first step.

The second step is to think, just before you take the club away, “center of the clubface.” Give your unconscious mind that thought and let that mind guide your swing to achieve that result.

Direction, slow swing, unconscious control. Those are the keys right now. Do not be concerned with how far the ball goes (although it will go farther than you expect it to).

Direction, slow swing, unconscious control, to meet the center of the clubface. Over and over.

Gradually you can speed up your swing and switch to other clubs. As you swing faster, guidance by the unconscious mind becomes more important. I would leave the driver alone until you get really good at this.

This drill trains your conscious mind to first, to give the right instruction, and second, to stay out of the way while the unconscious mind carries out the instruction.

I do a pretty good job of finding the center of the clubface. This is how I learned to do it.

The Undone Golf Swing

A few days ago, I was taking to a former teaching pro about the swing. We got into the idea of coiling in the backswing.

In most of what you read about that or hear about that on YouTube videos, the pro is talking about winding up as you swing back to create and elastic tension that snaps the hips back to begin the forward swing.

Sounds good, but muscles don’t work that way. You can coil up all you want to the finish of your backswing and sit there all day without any feeling of resisting a strong pull to uncoil you.

Coiling is still a good idea, but we have to think about the meaning of that word in a different way.

Think of unscrewing the lid of a wide-mouth jar a half turn. Then screw it back to where it started. The path it takes when you screw the lid back on that half turn IS THE SAME PATH IT TOOK WHEN YOU UNSCREWED IT. Let’s bring that to the golf swing.

We start at an address position and wish to bring the clubhead back to the same place with the same orientation at impact.

We start the process by taking the club back to a stopping point, then we reverse the direction of the swing. All we have to do to achieve the goal stated above is undo the things we just did.

Whatever you do when you take the club back, undo that exactly when you swing the club forward. This means when you turn your body back in a certain way, turn back in that same way. Coil, uncoil.

I’m thinking of your torso here. You legs will do different things naturally.

Develop a golf swing in which what you do going back is easy to undo going forward. The less you do taking the club back, the less you have to undo when swinging it forward, making it easier to bring the clubface back to where it started.

(We’re talking about coiling your body, but as well if you do things with your wrists going back, you have to undo those things coming forward, and that won’t always be easy.)

True that when you watch the professionals on TV they don’t always follow this advice. Jim Furyk. Miller Barber when I was learning the game.

But you’re not a pro. You don’t have hours to spend every day to grooving an unorthodox swing.

Do, undo. Build a swing that does that.

Use the Golf Swing You Know

There are two things you can do with a golf swing: learn a good one, and improve the one you have.

If you do the first one, you never have to do the second. If you haven’t done the first one, the second one won’t help you much.

So do the first one. Get lessons. Learn a swing that works. What is a swing that works? It is a swing that hits the ball where you intend.

When you have a swing that does that, practice it so you can repeat it, always referring back to its basic principles as you do. Don’t tinker or add on.

Let’s say you have learned that swing and you’re on the golf course. What do you do?

Swing with the good swing you know, and no more. Swing with the comfort that this swing will take care of itself. No forcing required.

Swing with that comfort in mind.

My Golf Swing Checklist

This is what I work on when I go to the range. Numbers 1, 5, 7, and 8 apply to everyone, in my opinion. The others are for correcting my bad habits.

1. End the practice swing at the desired finish position.
Moderates the entire swing.

2. Square up the shoulders at address.
My habit is to have them open.

3. Do the takewaway drill to make sure the clubface does not close at takeaway.
I tend to close the clubface unintentionally in the first few feet of takeaway.

4. The forward swing starts with the lower body.
…not with the arms.

5. The handle leads the swing all the way through the ball.
…so the hands lead the clubhead through impact.

6. Guard against swaying through impact.
I can get away with this with irons, but not with the driver.

7. The forward swing leads to the desired finish position.
The result of a moderated swing.

8. Tempo is set for centered contact rather than distance.
None of this works unless the tempo is right.

You might want to make up your own checklist.

You Can’t Push a Rope. Or a Golf Club

You want to hit the golf ball a long way, so you let your trailing hand and arm dominate the forward swing so you can pour that side into the ball, just like you would if you were throwing a baseball or hitting a tennis ball.

But golf doesn’t work that way.

When I was in the Navy we had a saying, “You can’t push a rope,” which applied to something that was pointless to even try. Anything.

Yes, you can’t push a rope, but you can push other things. The question is, can you push them accurately?

Which is easier, pulling something into place, or pushing it into place? Just watch someone trying to back (push) their boat on a trailer into the water when they have no idea how to do it. It is endlessly amusing.

It would be easier to pull the boat into the water, but then your truck would end up submerged, so don’t try that.

We’re taking about golf clubs here, not boats, and you can’t push a golf club, either. At least not accurately, though we try anyway because the push hand is the hitting hand.

Ahh! There’s the rub! You’re trying to hit the golf ball when you should be trying to swing the golf club. To swing the golf club, you lead it through impact with the swinging hand. That’s the left hand for most of us, the right hand for you lefties.

So many of your impact errors would go away in a few seconds if you would only transfer the responsibility for everything you want out of a golf shot to the swinging hand.

Go ahead! Try a few slow-motion swings with both hands on the handle, but let the swinging hand do the work while the hitting hand goes along for the ride. Don’t these swings feel smooth? Better still, aren’t they repeatable in a way the hitting-handed stroke isn’t?

Power? Not to worry. The gain in accuracy means hitting the center of the clubface more often, and that is the PRIME source of distance.

You might think a back-handed swing doesn’t have the force that a fore-handed swing does, and you are right if you are thinking only of muscle power.

But the golf swing is not about powered-up muscles. It’s about relaxed muscles. Relaxed muscles move faster. Golf clubs swung by relaxed muscles hit golf balls farther. Especially golf balls that get hit on the center of the clubface.

To sum up: leading the club through impact with the swinging hand rather than with the hitting hand leads to a faster and more accurate strike.

Oh, yes. A swinging-handed stroke sends the ball straighter and more accurately, too. But you’ll find that out for yourself.