Category Archives: golf swing

Building an Ideal Golf Swing – Transition From the Top

The second transition in the golf swing (the first being the takeaway in which we transition from a static to a dynamic state), is not the start of hitting the ball, and golfers who think it is ruin everything they have done right up to that point. We are still preparing for the hit, even when we are coming down into the ball. We do this by making the start of the downswing a gravity move.

By that, I mean the club drops down without any direct effort applied to it, being only carried by the body turn. Do not ring the bell (pull down with the last three fingers of the left hand). Certainly, do not push the club down with the right hand. Remember what we said in a previous post about pushing things.

By letting the club go along for the ride, we let it begin accelerating naturally, so when the moment comes to swing the club into the ball, it will already be ripping through the air. To push the club downward at the start actually slows the club down.

A good way to coach yourself to let the club fall on its own is to monitor the feeling you have on the inside of your hands, the part touching the club. When the club reaches the top of the backswing and is suspended momentarily, the grip feeling should be quite light, and should not change when you start down. The right thing to do is to carry that light feeling into the downswing–well into it. That way, the club cannot be forced into the ball.

Another drill you can do, even more extreme, but certainly not wrong, is to swing to the top of your backswing, and, as you start down, relax your grip and let the club fall out of your hands as you continue your swing motion with your body and arms. You can get no more effortless than that. Try this a few times, then swing one more time and keep hold of the club, but swing through the ball with the same light feeling as you had when you let go of the club.

I believe you will shortly find your clubhead speed increasing, and it might even be scary fast. Because you are not forcing anything, you will not lose accuracy, and might instead gain some.


Two Moves to Straight Golf Shots

To hit the ball straight, the clubface must be returned to the same position it had at address. From what I see, the two things recreational golfers do to ensure that does not happen are these. They start the club down with the right hand, in an effort to hit the ball, and their clubhead is the first thing that gets to the ball.

You must start the swing down with a gravity move. Start turning your body and just let the club start moving by falling. It floats down to the hitting position supported by your two hands. It does not get pushed into the hitting position by your right hand.

When your swing passes through impact, it must be led by the hands. There’s a race between the hands and the clubhead to get to the ball first, and the hands have to win. If they do, the clubface will be square.* If the clubhead wins, a square face is iffy.

You can see that these two factors are related. Starting the club down by letting it and your hands fall gracefully sets up a natural pulling action, energized by centrifugal force, that lets the hands get to the the ball first. Result: square clubface, straight shot, powerful shot.

I believe that if you practice these two things and make them a habit, you will hit the ball straighter, and straighter more often, than you believed possible.

*Assuming a proper grip, of course.


In golf, it’s a swing, not a hit

The French have a saying that goes, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, or, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

The French also have a saying that goes, Vive la différence, to which many web sites are devoted, but not this one.

I would like to introduce to you Mr. Jim Barnes, who is writing today’s guest post. He speaks to the important point that you have to swing the golf club, not clobber the ball.

Mr. Barnes:

“I would describe the swing as an effort in which a steadily increasing movement is achieved in response to the co-ordination of several sets of muscles working to produce the movement. The hit I conceive as a quick movement resulting from the sudden application of a single set of muscles. The one is a slow steady pull; the other is a sharp jerk.

“The beginner or unskilled player, on watching the experts, either amateur or professional, will usually be struck by the fact that they appear to hit and hit hard, and they do. But the point to be remembered is that they have first come to acquire the knack of timing the stroke properly. In other words, they can afford to apply plenty of force since they apply it correctly.

“The disposition to want to hit the ball as hard and as far as possible is entirely natural. For this reason, the effort is being made here to get it firmly impressed on the player, that while there is a good deal of “hitting” in the golf stroke, even for a full swing, it is of great importance to guard against overdoing it.

“Then there is another very important objection to making the stroke too much of a hitting effort. When this is done, there is an unconscious effort, more often than not, to stop the forward sweep of the hands as the ball is hit, if indeed not a fraction of a second before the hitting takes place.

“Long experience has proven that if the effort to drive the ball is allowed to stop immediately on contact between the clubhead and the ball, the result, generally speaking, will be poor. Instead of getting a picture of the stroke as a movement where the hands are practically stopped as the ball is hit, try to visualize them as sweeping right on through and out in front of you as far as the arms will permit them to go.

“In a short swing, the hands, wrists, and forearms supply nearly all the needed power, so that the stroke is distinctly a hit. The more full the swing the smaller the proportion contributed by them. For that reason, it is important to keep in mind that the chief consideration is the general sweeping or swinging movement with the hands and clubhead.”

Some of you might have heard of Jim Barnes. He golfed professionally in the early 20th century, winning the PGA Championship in 1916 and 1919, the U.S. Open in 1921, and the Open Championship in 1925.

These excerpts are from his book, A Guide to Good Golf, published in 1927. Plus ça change, . . .

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.

Build your golf swing around your wedges

A teaching pro once told me that when he was getting ready to play in a tournament, he did nothing but putt and hit wedges. Lots of wedges. He explained why, but I didn’t really get the point until about two years ago.

Take this self-test. Go the range and get ten golf balls. Take out your sand wedge and hit a pitch with a half swing. It will go about 70 yards or so. Now hit nine more, with identical results. Identical. Carbon copies.

If you hit the first few O.K., but then they start going every which way or you start having contact problems, something about your swing is missing or needs tightening up.

Get a lesson if you need to (and you probably do) to learn how to hit a 70-yard pitch in a way that you can pass this test.

One of the major flaws the test will uncover is that your hands are behind the ball at impact. Pick a bad shot type, fat, thin, slice, and this flaw is a likely cause of it.

There might be other things wrong, but by getting this flaw corrected, other swing flaws get patched up, too.

There’s a story that when Tom Watson first went to see Byron Nelson, the first thing Nelson wanted to see is Watson hitting a few pitches. If there were problems with that shot, then there was no point in moving on to any of the longer clubs.

I have a mat in my back yard off which I can hit plastic golf balls. I spend almost all of my time there hitting them with my 70-yard pitch swing.

It’s the same with you. Once you have the pitch swing down cold, you not only have a deadly scoring shot in your bag, but you’ll have mastered the key to your full golf swing.

The Perfect Golf Shot

Every day I hit plastic balls in my backyard. About once a week I have a flash of insight while I’m doing that.

Every so often, your swing falls into place and you hit an absolutely perfect shot.

This week’s Backyard Epiphany is: Do not start chasing that shot. Enjoy it, then keep hitting with your normal swing. After all, that’s what you were doing when you hit the perfecto.

The more you try to recreate that perfect shot the harder it is to let yourself do it. Actually you can make your swing worse in the effort.

You don’t need perfect shots to score well. All you need are playable shots. Hit bunches of those and let the great ones come when they may.

The Recreational Golfers’ Best Posts of 2012

In only five more days 2012 passes into history. The blog posts I’ve written, however, remain current. All you have to do is know what you’re looking for. To make that easier for you, I’ll show you where the best posts of the year can be found. A few of them might not make the most popular list, but all of them will make a big difference in how well you play.

Good golf begins in the mind. So does your golf shot. The True Beginning of a Golf Stroke. January 8.

Your elbows, left arm, and right leg build a good swing if they are managed correctly. This video lesson shows you how. The Golf Swing – Elbows, Left Arm, Right Leg. March 1.

The best golfing advice you ever got. If you can do this, you are on your way to low scores. Not better ones, low ones. Ball First, Ground Second. March 28.

Instead of trying to fix your golf swing, start over. Same for your short game and putting. Maybe You Should Start Golf Over. April 10.

A positive mind is the best tonic for better golf. Always Be Positive. April 30.

Many recreational golfers try to flip the ball in the air with their right hand. Death move. Here’s how to stop. The Golf Swing Move That Changes Everything. May 28.

Short game technique needs to have a plan. Here’s one. A Short Game Framework. June 25.

Your best shots will be wasted if your swing isn’t pointed in the right direction. It’s simple. Align Your Golf Swing This Easy Way. July 9.

Still can’t get out of bunkers? Let fix that right now. Getting Out of a Greenside Bunker. August 8.

A little detail, ball position, can make all the difference regardless of what else you do. Why Ball Position is Important. September 13.

Never be too proud to take a golf lesson. I know a few golfers who are. When Do You Need a Golf Lesson? October 22.

O.K., distance. Here’s how to get more, and it couldn’t be simpler. Two Simple Ways to Get More Distance. December 17.

I can’t wait for the 2013 season. It’s going to be my best yet. And you?


One Club at a Time

I’m slowly getting back into my swing after my surgeries earlier this year. My pro and I have developed a healthier swing, which I spent a few months learning. Now I am putting it into my game, one club at a time.

I started with a 9-iron and worked with it exclusively for about three weeks until I got consistent (-ly good) results with it. Then I started easing in the 8-iron. It has taken about ten days for that club to come up to speed, so later this week I will introduce my 7-iron to the practice plan.

I might help you to try the same thing in the next few months. Start with your 9-iron and keep at it until at least three out of five shots are exactly like you want them to be. Then keep hitting the 9, but hit a few balls here and there with the 8 — just one or two, then go back to the 9. Ease the 8 into your practice until it is performing like the 9, then you can introduce the 7.

By getting reacquainted with the clubs in your bag this way, one club at a time, slowly, and only when you’re ready, you’ll improve your swing by quite a bit.

What we normally do during the golf season is spend time at the range hitting the clubs we want to hit, or trying to fix problems. Do yourself a favor by starting over. Learn to hit an easy one well. Then take the one next to it and learn to hit that one well. And so on.

It wouldn’t hurt to suspend playing until this exercise is over. It night take a few weeks with each club at first, but once you get the hang of how to make transitions, it will proceed more quickly.


A Golf Swing Test

In an earlier post, I talked about learning how to hit your pitching wedge and building that swing throughout your set, one club at a time. This is not an idea I cooked up and just wrote about. I actually did it, and it works great.

To show you the benefit of getting on that program, try this exercise. Play eighteen holes with just your 9-iron and your putter. What you’re going to do is skip the tee shot on the par 4s and 5s and walk toward the green until you get to the distance from it that you hit your 9-iron, say, 125 yards. Drop a ball, hit on, and putt out.

The goal of the exercise is to hit as many greens as you can. Ten would be a good number. If it is significantly less than that, either practice with your 9-iron until you can hit ten, or get a lesson from a PGA professional and learn how to hit a 9-iron.

If you did get ten or more, try it again with your 8-iron. Keep progressing, out to about 175 yards, until you find the club that you can’t hit greens with. Then start working with that club.

I know, I’m asking you to go to the course and not hit your driver or all the other clubs, nor turn in a score. Consider this exercise to be tuition in the College of Golf.

On the other hand, this is also how I play golf when I go out with my grandson, and it’s kind a fun way to get around the course for a change. I think you’ll like it, too.

There is an additional benefit to the exercise. You will learn a lot about hitting greens, because that’s the only thing on your mind. You will start hitting the ball with a controlled swing that puts the ball where you want it. You might cut down your distance a bit as you raise your accuracy. That’s all right.

You can take from now until March to go through this project. There’s no hurry. There are so many shots we have to hit in golf, that it gets overwhelming trying to maintain all of them. So simplify for a while. Just work on one club at a time and give it the attention it probably never had before.