There are several steps to take to hit the ball straighter. This is best for a golfer willing to spend a little more time and effort to improve his game. I promise you if you incorporate the steps in this section, you will hit the ball straighter and lower your score.
Place the club behind your neck, grasp it comfortably with both hands. Bend slightly at the waist and turn slowly. Focus on keeping your head perfectly still and rotating around your spine. Do not sway.
We all know that you need to keep your head down. (Why do we not do it?) There is more to the swing than keeping your head down. The mantra should really be keep your head still. The goal of the golf swing is to return the club head back to where it started with as much controllable speed as possible. That is really it in a nutshell. If you ponder that for a bit you will realize that the more movement you have, the more difficult it is to achieve what seems to be a simple goal.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with a slight flex in your knees. Bend slightly at the waist and let your arms hang down. When you put your hands together, you are at the ideal point to begin your swing. Start your turn with your shoulders and without any swaying. A good drill for this is to stand at a point where the sun casts your shadow right where the ball would be. Start your backswing and see if your shadow moves.
The number one problem I see at this point, especially for older, less flexible players is that they do not keep their left arm straight. The tendency is to make a bigger turn so that you can hut it further. That is fine as long as the turn is with your shoulders, not your arms. When you bend your left arm you lose control of the club face. If you keep your left arm straight, the club face will have substantially less movement. Remember, the goal is to get the club head back exactly where it started.
I am going to expand on this in case you really want to push this all the way. If not, you can make dramatic improvements in your consistency by simply working on these to steps. Keep your left arm straight and stop your back swing when your turn stops. Secondly, keep your head still and rotate around your spine.
There are 3 more ways that you can hit the ball straighter and with more consistency. I recommend that you stop at the first 2 above and come back to these once you see the improvement in your scores. The 3 ways are with tempo, alignment and chasing the ball down the line.
What is tempo? Tempo is the rate or speed of motion or activity; pace. Let’s look at some examples. Does Fred Couples swing at the same pace as Nick Price? Of course Fred’s swing is much slower, almost laconic compared to Nick’s yet Fred hits it much further. The key to tempo is being smooth with no herky, jerky motions. Nick Price’s tempo is very fast but it is fast going back and fast going through.
You must find your own tempo. Whenever I find myself off kilter, I go to the range with only a lob wedge. I like a lob wedge because it is the shortest club and because there is no tendency to try and kill it. Just hit balls with no agenda except to keep the speed and swing consistent from start to finish. I love this drill for tempo.
I talked about alignment in the last chapter. Use a club or an alignment stick every time you go to the range. You will get better almost by osmosis.
What does chase it down the line mean? If you watch a pro swing in slow motion you will see that the club head follows the same path as the ball for quite a ways past impact. In doing this, they are insuring a better strike as well as a straighter shot. Most amateurs would notice that the club head does not follow the ball but actually starts upwards almost at impact. This promotes poorly struck shots and imparts side spin on the ball which decreases both distance and accuracy.
Chasing down the line may be a difficult concept to grasp but here is a drill that will help. Once you get the hang of this you will hit more straight, solid shots. When you go to the range, take a 5 or 6 iron and pretend you are in the woods and need to hit a low shot to get out. Put the ball a little back in your stance. Start out by taking a ½ back swing and follow through. Make sure that you focus on hitting the ball low. You do this by keeping your hands ahead of the club head at impact and beyond. Once you start to hit solid shots with ½ swings gradually lengthen your swing. If you continue to work on this your ball striking will improve. Period.
This post is all about shooting lower scores by hitting better quality shots. In my experience, this is the fastest way to large scale improvement. The next post will be all about everyone’s favorite topic. I will talk about how to go long.