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Pro Play

For effective use of body
while golfing, swing don’t hit ball

 

 
(September 2010)
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Jim Meisner

As you watch the tour players on TV, you will notice one thing in common with all of them. They finish their swing not just facing their target but with their entire body facing the target.
One of my best students is a 10-year-old (there were no bad habits to overcome). If you ask this student what golf is all about, she will tell you quite simply, “The Swing.” The natural follow on question is, “What is the swing all about?” The answer will be another flatly stated, “The Turns.” In more than two months she has never once used the word “hit” in any discussion we have had about golf.
You can, in fact, hit a ball using nothing but arms and hands. You can stand flat-footed without turning much of anything and advance the ball toward your target. And in truth, you can probably do it rather consistently. Your shots will be relatively short and there will be a lot of them, but you can do it.
The objective of the game, however, is to complete the round in as few strokes as possible. Weather you are a 10-year-old less than 100 pounds or a 6-foot-200-pound man it is a cold hard fact that you can make the ball go farther with a swing that utilizes your body in addition to your arms and hands than you can with arms and hands alone.
To use the body effectively and establish the mindset of “swing don’t hit,” one needs to understand the concept of centrifugal force. The energy created is increased by the length of the moment arm. Try that on a 10-year-old.
To feel what this means I have students hold the club out at arms length with elbows locked at shoulder height straight in front of them. Keeping both feet on the ground, turn slowly to the right as far as your shoulders and waist will allow. Now, with the club still held straight out in front of you, turn back to the left as far as you can. In this left turn allow the right foot to pivot up on to the toe as you turn. This will allow you to turn further to the left.
Do this three or four times. Try to keep the extended arms and club directly in front of you. Make the right turn with your body rotating slowly each time but increase the speed of your body rotation during the left turn each time. You will quickly realize you can’t keep the club in front of you as you turn left because the energy generated by your turning body is transferred out through the shoulders, arms, hands and club shaft to the head of the extended club and it ends up wrapped around your body and you end up facing your target. Just like on TV!
If we had the ball at shoulder height, we would be on to something, But, unfortunately, it’s down there on the ground. Before going down there to attack the ball, try this swing concept about a foot off of the ground. When this gets comfortable, bend a little farther and sweep the top of the grass. We’ll let the ball get in the way a little later.
Remember, the idea is to swing using the body as well as the arms and hands. My sainted grandmother used to tell us, “We work diligently at forming good habits, or by default we will have bad habits.”
The good habit of a full body turn in this lesson is ingrained by making that full body turn with every swing. Yes, even the simple loosening up swings. Make a full turn every time you swing a club. That way the body won’t forget to make the full turn when you have a ball in front of you: Swing, don’t hit!
Building a good golf swing is like building a house. You have to start with a good foundation. The foundation of the golf swing is understanding that we swing the club rather than “hit” the ball.

• Jim Meisner is is the PGA Director of Instruction at the Midwest Golf Academy at Cozy Acres Golf Complex in Madison, Ind. Call him at (812) 273-3137.

 

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