By BETSY LAREY – Gazette Columnist
That’s easy – it’s the swing that works the best. But over and over you see players working on the next "greatest swing tip" from Golf Digest on the practice range. I truly think these golf magazines are doing the average golfer a grave disservice by continuing to trot out Leadbetter, Haney, Harmon et al issue after issue pontificating about their next best tip.
If you want to get better, the best thing you can do is to find a local pro that can identify one or two things you can work on. More than that, it’s just too difficult unless you are committed to months of practice and lessons.
The building blocks of a consistent swing include a stable base, a weight transfer to your backside and then to your target side, an arm swing that allows the club to stay in the correct plane and a wrist hinge that gives you the correct angle of approach on the ball.
Let’s start with a stable base and a good weight transfer. Many players have a tendency to over rotate their lower body to the point where it is almost a reverse pivot. All you need to do is get the weight shifted to your right side. Here’s a simple exercise to see if yours is correct. Stand in front of a mirror with short iron. Get into your good address position. Swing to the top of your backside and see if your right knee is flexed and pointing directly at the mirror, and the weight is on the inside of your right foot (for right handed players). If the knee locks straight up or is pointing to your right, or if the weight has shifted to the outside of your right foot you are over rotating.
The reason people over rotate is because they are trying to make a full swing. They are not able to separate their upper body from their lower, so the whole body goes together. The result is a reverse pivot. If you do not have the flexibility to separate your core, you would be much better off shortening your swing.
This leads us to the next component, which is an arm swing that allows you to stay in the correct plane. You probably have heard a million times "keep your left arm relatively straight." This is easier said than done if you are trying to get the club to parallel (at the top of your backswing). Once again flexibility (or lack thereof) is the culprit. If you don’t have enough flexibility in your shoulders and back, you will either bend your left arm or stand up in your backswing to get the club there. This means that your club will either be under or over your intended swing plane. It’s very difficult to be consistent when your swing plane doesn’t stay on the intended line. So wouldn’t you be better off shortening your swing and staying in the correct plane? I think the answer is a definitive yes.
The last piece of the puzzle is a good wrist hinge. When I see players over rotating, or bending the left arm in order to have a full swing, I often see too much hinging of the wrists. If your wrist hinge allows the club to go past parallel (meaning the club head is actually pointing down at the ground instead of the target) you will probably have an early release and will cast the club outside to in. That combination produces a slice, and also robs you of potential power. You will be much better served with less of a hinge than too much. In addition, this allows you to hold the hinge longer which produces more club head speed at impact.
So be realistic with yourself and what your body is capable of doing. From that point, it should be much easier to find a swing that works best for you.
Betsy Larey is an LPGA Teaching Professional who enjoys teaching, writing, researching and playing golf. You can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.