By Daryl Daughtrey, PGA Professional
An old golf guru once told me that when your shots start going everywhere, other than where you want them to go, head to the practice tee and start subtracting. Subtract everything you have read about the golf swing, what you’ve been told or learned about the golf swing. What this guru meant was that a golfer must get back to the basics.
As golfers, we only have total control of three elements: grip, stance and alignment. Unless these three elements are correct, it makes hitting a good golf shot almost impossible.
With a proper, neutral grip, there are only three things that should line-up dead on our target: the back of the left hand, the palm of the right hand, and the club face. For proper alignment, the rest of our body (for the right-handed golfer) is lined up slightly left of the target. A proper stance should enable us to be comfortable when we address the ball. Without being comfortable, it makes it very hard to produce a good, smooth swing. Position your feet shoulder-width apart. Have a slight bend in the knees and at the waist. Your position is almost as if you are sitting on the edge of a counter. Our hands, at address, should be about six inches in front of our body and remain in front of our body throughout the swing.
There are many variables in the golf swing and all too often we are trying to think about most of them when we are hitting the ball. Ernest Jones, golf professional and instructor, once said: “The most amazing thing about the game is that the poorest players are the ones who try to do the most.” After many years of teaching, I wanted to develop the fewest swing items that would constantly produce good golf shots. The swing items are club path, center of face, minimum upper body motion, and developing good rhythm.
With the club path, we want to take the club straight back from the target on the proper path, and coming into the ball and releasing the club towards the target. With the center of the clubface, we want to make certain that the clubface is aligned with the target at impact. The majority of missed shots occur when our upper body is moving all over the place. If our upper body is moving back or up and down through the swing, then the distance between our eyes and the ball is not constant. Almost 95 % of “missed” shots come as a direct result of excessive upper body motion. Keep your eyes on the back of the ball. Concentrate on the part of the ball that the club is going to make contact with. To produce good golf shots, we have to have the same rhythm every time we swing. Whether it is referred to as rhythm or tempo, it is important to keep it constant throughout every swing.
Practice these four items using 1/4 and 1/2 swings. When you start hitting the ball solid and in the desired direction, gradually increase your swing and your tempo. This drill will work with every club in your bag. Making a change in your golf swing cannot be accomplished by taking a full swing at full speed. Have patience with this short drill, and you will be on your way to hitting better shots resulting in having more fun when you play. Remember, practice doesn’t make us play better. However, correct practice makes us play better.
Daryl Daughtrey is the former PGA Director of Golf at the Rivanna Golf Club. Retired as a pro, he is now active as a grandfather, teaching his young grandson how to tee it up.