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
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 dont
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 cant 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, its 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. Well 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
wont forget to make the full turn when you have a ball in front
of you: Swing, dont 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)