The Golf Swing – Part 1
Golf professional, Al Lovell, takes us through the first part of developing a good golf swing.
When I’m teaching a beginner golfer, it’s important to get to know a bit about them, what sports they play, what other activities they like, enough so that I can draw a parallel from something they already do, and incorporate that into their golf swing.
It’s important to remember that there is no one way to swing the golf club, everyone is different, so what works for one person may be the absolute worst thing to show to another. For example, I can’t teach someone who is 6’4” to swing the club the same way as someone who is 5’6”. Also, some people live their lives at a very quick pace, others are more laid back and relaxed. It’s difficult if not impossible to ask someone who is fast to slow down, and vice versa.
The last thing I try to do as a teacher is make my students swing like me. My swing is my swing, and it works for me. Your swing will be yours, your tempo will be your tempo, and the only person it needs to work for is you.
Having said that, there are some basic fundamentals that we can all use to make us more consistent, and that is the objective of a good swing. It has to repeat.
The more it repeats, the better your consistency, the lower your scores.
So now you want to swing the club. You tell your friends and coworkers you’re going to the range to hit a basket of balls, and you ask them for advice. You will get the same two pieces of advice from almost everyone, and here they are:
- KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN
- BEND YOUR KNEES
So now, with your newfound knowledge, you head to the range fully prepared to do both of the above. One small problem, THEY DON’T WORK the way they were intended. They’ve never worked for anyone I’ve ever taught, and they won’t work for you. But I’ll get back to that shortly.
The last time I checked (and I’m not a doctor), your body bends in two important places for golf, your knees, and your hips. One is far more important (for now) than the other, so hopefully, if you’re following along, you’ll now know that the bend in your hips is far more important than the bend in your knees (and from now on we will use the word FLEX when talking about your knees).
So why is the hip bend so important? Let’s say we’re out playing baseball or tennis. The ball is coming towards you usually between knee and chest high, so you swing your arms around your body and transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot to help generate a little power, and all things being equal, your motion helps send the ball back to the other side of the net or into the outfield.
Great, but now you have a couple of big adjustments to make to play golf. First, the ball isn’t moving, and second, IT’S ON THE GROUND!
So now you realize to make a good swing, you can’t swing the golf club around your body. It has to be swung in an up and under motion, as opposed to around.
So we have to bend our hips, to get our shoulders somewhere between 4”-6” in front of our hips (imagine making a slight bow). This will allow the club to rest on the ground behind the ball when you are setting up, and will allow you to swing your arms UP on the backswing and UNDER and through on the downswing to allow the club to come back to make contact with the ball. And yes, FINALLY, you can flex your knees!
Your set up is almost complete, your feet should be approximately shoulder-width apart, your shoulders should be 4”-6” in front of your hips, and the club you are holding should be the same 4”-6” in front of your body, with the bead of the club resting on the ground behind the ball.
Finally, you should try and place the ball in the same place as well. For RIGHT-HANDED GOLFERS, the shorter clubs (irons), the ball should be across from your heart, and for the longer clubs (hybrids and metal woods) the ball should be across from your left armpit or shoulder. For the lefties, right armpit or shoulder for hybrids and metal wood, and about halfway between your chin and right armpit for the irons.
And now you think, “this is complicated, how long is this gonna take me to get set up? I’m gonna be here for an hour and I haven’t hit a ball yet”. So here’s how quick you can get this, and it’s all part of a routine;
Start with your feet together, take a slight bow, shoulders 4-6” in front of hips, separate your feet, ball in the right place (across from heart or shoulder), flex your knees. Takes about 5-7 seconds.
If you can do this consistently, golf will become so much easier, you’ll see better results sooner, and you’ll enjoy the game more. I’ve yet to meet a golfer who said to me they took up the game to be more stressed and frustrated, yet that can sometimes be the result. Develop a pre-shot routine that’s for you and you only, get your set up so that you put yourself in the best possible place to make a good swing, and JUST SWING. If it works, do it again. If it doesn’t work, do it again! The idea is to be consistent, and now you’ve got a good place to start.