Pro Page – A New Twist on Old Adages

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Sometimes well-intentioned advice can cause some major problems. I always ask my students what they are trying to do when they come for a lesson, although I usually have a good idea after watching a of couple swings. Here is some of that advice, what problems it can cause, and how we can rephrase that age-old advice that could be explained just a bit better.

Number One:  Do Not Move Your Head During the Swing

If you try too hard to do this you will probably reverse pivot (tilt towards the target at the top of your backswing). You will also have a hard time finishing your swing as a result of having to overuse your arms in your attempt to hit the ball without moving your body. A better way of saying it is “Keep your eye on the ball during your backswing.” Since your head is attached to your body your head will move a little during your backswing so if you try not to move your head it will probably move anyways just in the wrong direction.

Number Two: Keep Your Left Arm Straight

If you want to add loads of tension to your swing and not hit it anywhere, please try to keep your left arm straight. Don’t get me wrong, it would be preferable to keep the radius in your swing intact but keeping your arm straight just to keep it straight can lead to some major problems. A better way to put it is to “Try to maintain the width in your backswing.” I find it works better if you focus on the right arm and pushing away softly. If you can get to the top of the backswing and you have about a 90-degree angle in your right arm you will have enough width.

Besides the above thoughts, I would like to share a couple of drills that really help fix common swing errors.

The Left Foot Forward Drill

This drill is great for learning how to stay centered in your backswing while allowing for a full turn. It’s really hard to shift laterally using this drill. To perform the drill stand with all of your weight on your left leg with the knee slightly flexed (see photo). Your right foot will be used for balance but it should not bear a lot of weight and should be positioned straight back. Ball position is in line with your left foot. Keep your balance as you do not want to move your weight onto your toe or heel. Then turn your shoulders as you swing your arms back and unwind through the ball keeping your balance. This drill is great for those that sway off of the ball or try to lift, or scoop, the ball into the air.

The Right Foot Forward Drill

This drill is excellent if you lack rotation in the through swing. If you overuse your arms in your downswing this drill will allow you to keep your upper body rotating to the finish. If you use your arms too much in this drill you will shift your weight right and have a hard time making a divot to the target side of the ball. To perform this drill set up with your weight over your right foot and with a slight flex in the knee (see photo). Your left foot will be used for balance but it should not bear a lot of weight and should be positioned straight back. Ball position is in line with your right foot. Keep your balance as you do not want to move your weight onto your toe or heel. Swing back normally and as you come through keep your upper body rotating to the finish.

Nate Gray is the Head PGA Golf Professional at Fire Ridge Golf Club in Grafton, Wisconsin. Before Fire Ridge, Nate spent the previous seven years as a full-time golf instructor. Although he loves to help his students win championships, Nate hopes to resume a fuller schedule of competitive golf in the Wisconsin PGA Section events following his second shoulder surgery in the last three years. When Nate has free time his likes to spend it with his best pal Twigs. His lesson rates start at $40 per half for juniors and $50 per half hour for adults, plus he offers numerous lesson packages to customize your experience. He can be reached via email at ngray@fireridgecc.com or by phone at (262) 375-2252.

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Nate Gray

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