By Nate Gray, Head Golf Professional Fire Ridge Golf Course, Grafton, WI
In Nate Gray’s first Pro Page installment he introduced us to his teaching platform that included the premise of Dynamic Motion. I found this approach to golf extremely interesting and I wanted to learn more from a practical sense. So I asked Nate to take a look at my swing and discuss how he would use Dynamic Motion to improve my swing, contact, and hopefully scoring average.
When I begin an initial lesson with a student I usually ask them two questions, “What are you trying to accomplish (goals)?”, and “What are you doing to achieve this (process)?” Their goals are usually to become more consistent, hit the ball solid, stop slicing/hooking, etc. When it comes to what they are thinking about to swing the club, some answers include keep the left arm straight, keep my head down, turn my shoulders, etc. It is important for me to know what my student is thinking because if someone is trying to keep their left arm straight, for example, and I am trying to get the tension out of their swing we will be working against each other.
The hardest and most important thing in the golf swing (in my eyes) is to get the club swinging right away (take away). This may seem impossible but initiating the swing properly gets the club swinging on plane and your job from there is to not interfere with it. If you “help” the club go back or come down you are essentially moving the club over or under the plane creating problems that require manipulation and result in deceleration.
Let’s take for example a player like Glen whose miss is a hook or pull hook to the left. If we look at what happens through the impact area the upper body rotation slows down and the arms have to rotate excessively. The clubface will be closing rapidly and the player will hook the ball or pull hook it. Eventually they will block it as well trying to hold off the left shot. The hook or pull hook will cause the player to slow down the rotation of their body even more and possibly move the upper body towards the target (getting ahead of the ball) causing the rotation of the clubface to speed up which makes the situation worse. The player actually needs to unwind more to the left. This will keep the club to the right longer (on path) and slows the rotation of the club down creating room for the club to travel through.
The first place I look is the grip as it is essential to have a correct grip. I see too many poor grips that are technically weak and in the palm (no chance). Do not weaken it. A correct grip may feel like you will hook it but if you unwind correctly your shots will fly straight and impact will be solid. It’s too hard and unnecessary to try and square the clubface with your hands. If you can’t seem to finish your swing, are standing up through impact, or are getting stuck coming down you are usually either forcing the arms or trying too hard to turn your hips.
One drill I use to feel the correct sequence of the golf swing, is a baseball swing drill or “Left-Right-Left” drill. Get setup using a 7-iron with the ball just left of center in your stance. Then move your left foot next to your right. Now take a small step to your left and swing the club to your right at exactly the same time. (Your weight should now be about 4 inches left of your right foot). As your left foot lands you should already be unwinding (turning to the left). Don’t help the club swing down as it will fall as you unwind your body to a full finish. Remember to unwind to your finish so don’t force the body to go left. The unwinding will take you there. This left right left action is what you should try to achieve in your real golf swing. The above photos will show you the proper sequence from left to right.
Practicing drills like this create an athletic tension free swing putting less stress on your back and shoulders. A tension free golf swing is key to club head speed and distance control which should help you drop a ton of strokes. Helping the club go back or down (with either excessive body or hands and arm motion) kills the golf swing and creates inconsistency. One of the hardest things to do in life is change the way we think or the way we do things. The golf swing is a SWING and you can’t put a wrench to it. Golf is not on a blueprint where you can go from point A to B connect the dots and you have a great swing. The easy way out seems to be trying to put yourself in perfect positions and everything will work out. I see a lot of perfect looking swings that can’t crack an egg. I want my students to get into great positions but more importantly I want them to hit the ball solidly and know where it is going. Understand your grip, what a good athletic posture is, and how to align yourself and never change those fundamentals. From there you need to put the swing into your feet instead of muscling it with your arms or body.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (262) 375-2252.