Category Archives: golf swing

What I Learned at the Range – 3/24/22

Good day at the range. I used to be very good with a driver, but a few years away from the game was enough for me to forget how to swing it. Or any golf club, for that matter.

I had developed an arms-oriented swing, but it was too much arms. I had forgotten about the lower body, so I added in the hips and knees. Still no good.

You can get away with stuff with irons, but not with the driver. Somehow today, I realized that I had forgotten about my torso on the forward swing. It’s part of the sequence and I had left it out.

The hips turn, the torso turns, the arms swing, in that order. Instant success! Nice, straight fairway-finders. They fly a bit low, though, so I’ll get a lesson to help me with that.

Then there’s putting. When I watch the close-ups on TV of the touring players taking the putter back, it goes back as if it is on a rail. Perfectly straight back. Mine wobbles a bit, and I for the life of me couldn’t figure out how not to have that happen.

And today, for some reason, I gripped down on the handle so I was holding it in the middle, not near to the top. Instant success!

I was now holding the putter at its balance point and it started back with no wobble.

When I go to the range, I leave myself open to figuring out new things. I do that by never taking anything for granted. There is another way to do anything, and if you try it, that might be a better way.

To finish my day at the range, I always hit a few approach putts using my TAP method. It’s scary how well that works.

A Coordinated Golf Swing

The most important part of the golf swing is the forward swing, of course, because that is when the ball is struck.

One thing we don’t read much about is that the forward swing must be coordinated. By that I mean that the body turn and the arm swing work in harmony to line up at impact.

If when you swing you feel that the arms get ahead of the body, or that they are late to the game, something is wrong.

The forward swing should feel like a unified motion. The feeling is that the body and arms propel each other through the ball in a complimentary way.

You also want to feel no jerks or bumps in your hands. If you do, that is a sign they are probably doing something they shouldn’t.

Try making slow motion practice swings, without a ball. When you get it right, you’ll know what I mean.

An Easy Trick For Hitting Accurate Golf Shots

I’m going to show you something I have been doing for years to hit accurate golf shots. By that I mean the ball goes in the direction I intend. (To hit the ball straight, that is, without curvature, see A Basic Golf Swing.)

This trick is so easy you won’t think it will work, but it does, if you believe in it.

All you have to do is imagine a short line going away from the ball in the direction you want to hit the ball (see photo). Do this just before you take the club away.

(The line you imagine doesn’t have to be red, as in the photo. Something from the taupe family also goes well with green.)

I’m no expert on how the mind works, but it seems to me that by giving your unconscious mind a last-second order to swing the club through the ball along the line you imagined, that mind takes over to make it happen.

You aim yourself when you set up to the ball. This is how you aim your swing, which is a different task.

When I’m swinging, I see that line the entire time–not fixating on it, but continuing to let it guide my swing via the workings of my unconscious mind.

Believe in it, give yourself up to it. As they say, give up control to get control.

A Basic Golf Swing

A new work, over a year and a half in the making, is now available on this blog in .pdf form and on an accompanying video on YouTube.

The .pdf and video must both be consumed. There is material on the .pdf that is not in the video, and vice versa. Together they explain the concept. Read the .pdf, then see the video.

Find the .pdf here:

Find the homespun video here:

I hope you like it.

The Role of the Forearms In the Golf Swing

NOTE: A Basic Golf Swing is now available that develops the comments below in full, and more, in both words and video.

For about a year and a half I have been working on an idea that has changed my swing for much the better. I have not mentioned it to you because I wanted to develop the idea so I understood its essence, then put it to the test to make sure it worked.

I now feel that I can let you know what this very simple idea is.

It has to do with the hands–how to keep them from turning and getting the clubface out of alignment.

Everything changed when I realized that it is anatomically impossible for the hands to turn. The hands turn because the forearms turn, and that is not a trivial difference.

I changed my grip to one that is based on the way my forearms are built. When my forearms hang down in a neutral position, not turned one way or the other, the result is a strong left-hand grip and a neutral right-hand grip.

Because my forearms are in their neutral position with that grip, there is no cause for them to turn, which means the hands won’t turn.

Then I developed a swing based on the feeling of the forearms staying neutral throughout the swing, i.e., not turning at all, and with those two things the clubhead stays square and the ball goes very straight.

That is the essence of the idea. It deserves a deeper explanation, and I will give that to you in a few weeks.

But read those four key paragraphs carefully for now.

Relaxing the Arms

NOTE: A Basic Golf Swing is now available that develops the comments below in full, and more, in both words and video.

I hope everybody knows by now that a relaxed golf swing generates more swing speed and thus more power than a muscular effort. Relaxation as a general rule goes only so far, though. We need to know how to apply it.

As always, The Recreational Golfer to the rescue. It’s in the arms.

When you are at address, let your arms hang down freely from the shoulders in a state of complete relaxation. So far, so good, but anybody can do that. The trick is to maintain that kind of relaxation throughout the swing.

It can be lost the instant the club gets taken away, or if it survives that, the instant the club is brought back down.

Maintain that calmness, and that relaxation, by relaxing your mind. Before you take the club away, think to yourself, “One, half, half, half…” and feel the relaxation appearing in both your mind and your body.

Then you can take the club away and let that freely hanging feeling continue throughout the swing, instead of your arms and shoulders tightening up as when the arms and hands are full of “hit.”

That will generate more speed than you thought possible.

If you ever have a chance to swing with a launch monitor, you will find that you get a higher swing speed when your arms are relaxed than if you try to muscle your way to swing speed.

One more thing. You need to swing with a tempo that lets your arms stay relaxed. If your tempo is over your red line, your relaxation will be lost.

I Give Up On Swing Changes

One thing the vast majority of golfers have in common is the continual search for improvement. No matter how well you play you could always do better—make your good shots great ones and make your poor shots good ones.

Even the greatest players are not immune.

“Ian Baker-Finch, who won the 1991 British Open, decided he wanted to hit his ball farther. So he changed his swing—and stopped making cuts, much less winning tournaments.” (Jim Flick, On Golf)

“[Hogan] surely knew that all serious golfers are prone to come up with what they think to be ‘the secret’ but which usually turns out to be a snare and a delusion. I know that I had many of them, some of which I briefly thought were so valuable that I would keep them strictly to myself until I had won all the tournaments and money I wanted to.” (Cary Middlecoff, The Golf Swing)

I even think if I said I can show you how to play scratch golf for the rest of your life but you have to give up sex forever, a good number of golfers we find that an easy choice to make.

I have been playing golf for over 60 years. I have a good swing. It’s reliable. It hits the ball straight. Yet I keep wanting to make it better. (What that would be, I’m not really sure.)

I tried putting more width into my swing by extending my arms and getting my wrists hinged at the end of the backswing. All that did was put me into an unfamiliar position that left me wondering, “No what do I do?”

I tried starting the forward swing with a strong movement of my left hip but all that did was leave the club playing catch-up.

I watched film videos of the best golfers tried imitating the positions they got into. And I think I did but none of that made a positive difference and most of it made things worse.

And that is barely getting started on the list of things I tried to hit the ball even better.

All along, when I would get frustrated because my Fix-of-the-Week wasn’t working, I would say to myself, “Bob, just relax, stop thinking about how you hit the ball, and put the swing it you have been using for years. Decades. The one that is You.” And I would hit the shot I had been chasing for the last half-hour.

That swing is in there, I just have to learn to stop doing things that prevent it from coming out.

Looking back on all that effort there are only two things I have ever put into my swing that are of any benefit—the emphasis on tempo and rhythm, and the emphasis on the hands leading the clubhead through impact, two things of which this blog is filled to overflowing.

I know that if I keep my swing speed under my redline, and swing the club through impact with my hands working as one unit leading the clubhead, I can play a satisfying round of golf. I’m human, so I will make bad swings from time to time. But those don’t mean I need to install a patch.

So I’m finished with swing changes. The swing I have now I wouldn’t trade for anyone else’s. I’m going to stick with it and enjoy the ride.

Now if only I could putt better…

Weight Shift in the Golf Swing

From time to time you read about shifting your weight during the forward swing.

Stand up with your feet the same distance apart as in your stance. Now turn to your right, keeping your feet in the same place, and “shake hands” with someone standing at your right side, using your left hand. Your can lift your left foot so only the toe stays on the ground.

Now turn to the left and do the same thing with your right hand.

Did you notice that the first time your weight moved to your right foot and the second time your weight moved to your left foot, and that you didn’t deliberately shift your weight, but it just happened?

That’s all you need to know about weight shift.

The Left Hip In Transition

I like to try different things. Something new. You never know how it’s going to come out. So today I tried something new.

I thought to myself, one reason the golf swing is so hard is that it’s tilted. We don’t have any problem swinging something horizontally, like beating a rug (I know, that’s a dated concept, but its’ still a good image for this purpose).

So I had my 7-iron in hand, and started swing it like as if I were … beating a rug. I wanted to see how my body would move as I beat the rug in earnest. What would be moving, how, and when?

This is what I noticed. My hands and arms did not go first. To wind up my rug-beating backswing, my right hip went back first. That is the first thing that moved.

It took me a few swings to notice that, because I’ve never started a golf swing with my right hip moving back, so I wasn’t looking for it. But my unconscious mind felt that was what I had to do to get a good windup, so that’s what it made my body do.

Then on swinging forward to hit my imaginary rug, the left hip moved first. By a lot. And it moved backward. Straight backward–it did not turn. And it went back fast.

In his book, Five Lessons, Ben Hogan said of the hips in transition, “The faster the hips move, the better. They can’t go too fast.”

Actually, they can. If you throw your hips around by turning them, that puts a tremendous strain on your lower back. But if you throw your left hip straight back, you get the turn without the strain.

Back to beating the rug.

The movement of the right hip and left hip happened every time, not because I was trying to move them that way, but because that is the way my mind directed my body to move given the task it was preparing the body to perform.

So, I thought, that’s probably how my mind wants my body to move when I hit a golf ball. Why not try it like that?

So, I hit a few golf balls with my hips doing this new thing.

Result: much greater swing speed than normal with no effort at all, and a ball that went straight, high, and far. At least as far as Wiffle balls go.

Now the ball was on a tee. I tee up the ball when I have swing practice because I just want to work on club path and clubface angle. Trajectory is a skill all its own which I will practice using this technique later.

I’m not saying you should rush out and try this new idea because it would add 20 yards to your drives and lower your score by five strokes.

I’m saying I tried to find out how my body wants to move when I swing a stick at something in the most natural way possible and then try applying that to my golf swing. MY golf swing.

Make your own experiment to find out how your body wants to move and then apply that to YOUR golf swing.