The more I play golf, the more I wonder why anyone bothers to swing a club. The goal of the game is not to hit the ball; it’s to hit the ball as far as you can into a hole that’s so small that you can’t even see it from the tee. The whole point of hitting the ball is not to hit it with any particular accuracy or technique but just to get it over the hole. If you are going for distance, why not just set up a bowling pin and throw the ball?
But if you’re focused on getting the ball over the hole, there are much better ways to do it than by swinging your club. There are eight keys that make up a good golf swing: (1) posture; (2) grip; (3) backswing; (4) downswing; (5) arms and wrists; (6) leg action and pivot; (7) release and follow through; (8) balance.
What goes wrong in a golfer’s swing? In golf, as in life, the holes are not always what they seem. A good swing is not based on intuition or gut feelings. It is based on skill and repeatable drills.
A golf swing analyzer (like this one) will tell you how to improve your swing. With the help of a swing analyzer, you can practice the same movements again and again until you feel comfortable executing them. This consistency is key to good golf.
Your golf swing is like a string quartet, and you want to do two different kinds of things with it. You want to hit the ball well, which means you want to hit the ball straight, on target and far enough. But you also want to look good when you do it, which means you want to hit the ball well with a nice, smooth swing.
The problem is that your body doesn’t work that way. When your body wants something, it doesn’t obey; it goes its own way. Your body wants to swing the club back and forth at high speed, swinging faster than your head even knows what’s going on. If you try to make it go one way instead of another, your body will resist; you’ll feel unhappy and out of control. And that’s exactly when your swing won’t be good enough.
The best way to understand the “problem” of golf is to walk around with a guy who has a good golf swing. You can see what he does, you can feel it in his body, you can watch him make subtle and not-so-subtle adjustments as he goes along. He must be doing something right, because you can’t really explain how he’s doing it.
All golf swings are different, but they have 7 or 8 common elements:
7. Followthrough (or follow)
You can’t swing a golf club without the proper biomechanics and mechanics. In fact, you can’t swing at all without a good biomechanics and mechanics.
It’s not easy to learn how to hit a golf ball. There are lots of possible mistakes that, if you don’t know about them, you can make. The worst mistake you can make is having no idea what you’re doing wrong, or then making the same mistake again and again.
The good golfer’s swing is the one that helps him on the green.
It is not the same thing as an acceptable golf swing. If a golfer has an acceptable swing, but he can’t make the ball to go where he wants it to, then he isn’t really a golfer. He’s a sportswriter who plays golf.
When you play a game of golf, you have to swing the club every time. When you swing it, the club goes from rest to impact at high speed, pound for pound probably the fastest thing in the world. You hit a golf ball at thousands of miles an hour; a golf club only goes faster than a ball in one direction. So if you want it to be fast, it has to be fast in every direction.
If your backswing is too slow you can’t hit hard enough to go far, because the club moves so slowly that it doesn’t have time for all the force in your swing to get transferred from your arms into the ball. If your backswing is too fast, you get too much weight on the front end and it’s hard to control, so that you either start over or hit thin or fade. The swing speed depends on how long your arms are and what they do with that weight during the downswing; that depends on how long your torso and arms stay bent during the backswing.
Golf clubs have been designed for exactly this problem: they are optimized for low swing speeds because that produces lower inertia and faster club head rotation.