Direction to better scoring
By Tim Mahoney
All gofers no matter what the handicap level should attempt
to control distance and direction. An
improvement in consistency is the effect of a compatible golf swing. When golfers attempt swing changes without
regard to keeping a balanced or compatible swing, inconsistency is the
result. Golf swings can be upright, Jack
Nicklaus, flat Ben Hogan, shut face David Duval or an open face Nancy Lopez; as
long as all the parts are compatible consistency is the result.
A weak grip should be balanced with a forward ball position,
centered pivot, open face, swing path that is out to in and aggressive hand
action through impact. A stronger grip
should be balanced with a centered ball position, closed face, path from in to
out and an aggressive body motion through impact.
There has never been a perfect golf swing, and probably
never will. Keep your golf swing
balanced and compatible and you will have consistent results.
Golfers are constantly striving for more distance. Trying out new clubs, improved physical
conditioning and the latest secret in a golf publication in an attempt to add
an extra 10-20 yards. All of these
changes are good, but the number one influence on distance is a combination of
club head speed and solid contact. One
without the other simply results in short off line tee-shots.
Speed is the effect of wristcock, arm swing and torso
turn. Maximize all power sources in a
balanced manner will result in an increase in speed. Solid contact is the result of a path that is
from the inside to along to inside.
Swing the club on the manufactured angle with the arms in front of the
trunk will produce the correct path, resulting in a square hit.
All golfers should be striving for balanced controlled
distance for improved scoring. Club head
speed combined with solid contact is a guaranteed means of increased distance.
Controlling distance with your Wedges
Golf is a unique activity where you have the combination of
distance, direction and trajectory control of the golf ball. In the short game the ability to score is
directly related to controlling the distance of the golf ball. Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie
Fowler have the ability to control the distance of their wedges within 95% of
the required goal. For an example, on a
30 yard shot, Spieth has the control of his wedges to hit the ball 28.5 yards,
a differential of 1.5 yards in total distance.
Distance is controlled by club choice, length of club at
address, length of swing, elevation of the shot, solidness of the strike and
the speed of motion. All golfers should
have a minimum of 3 wedges with the lofts of 48, 52 and 56 degrees of
loft. All wedges should have a
differential of 4 degrees of separation.
As you work with the wedges identify the distance of ½, ¾ and full
Length of club at address will have a direct impact on the speed
of the motion throughout. Golfers should
attempt to grip down the shaft, ½ of a grip and a full grip. Combine this with different length of swings
as well. A shortened club will work with
a shortened swing and a long club will work with a long swing. All wedge swings should be balanced or
symmetrical on both sides of the motion.
A partial backswing should match a partial forward swing. The golf swing
needs to be balanced in order to control speed and distance.
A mirrored impact position and address, of the will assist
with controlling the loft of the club. The impact position should be identical
to the starting position. Unlike the full swing where the shaft needs to be
forward leaned for speed in pitching the shafts needs to match.
Solidness of the strike is the effect of the angle or plane
of the swing. A vertical swing motion
will produce a toe hit and conversely a horizontal or flat swing will produce a
heel hit or a shank. The club must be
swung on the desired angle or right angle to your spine.
Distance control in the short game is the effect of the
club, speed, length of swing and solidness of the hit. Control these variables and you to will pitch
“Find your distance potential”
One of the keys to playing golf in this era is to hit the
ball long. As golf courses continue to be designed longer and more
difficult, hitting the ball with power allows players the best chance to
score. Although Tiger Woods has possibly the greatest short game in the
history of the game, it is also a huge advantage the he has been consistently
ranked among the longest hitters during his career. How can you hit it
Quite simply, there are two keys to hitting it long:
solid contact and speed. Hitting the ball in the center of the face with
maximum speed will allow you to hit it as far as you can. This combined
with the latest in club and ball technology can help you find your true
The first thing you should determine is if you hit the ball
solidly with your current swing. The easiest test is to use face tape
that can be found at most golf shops. Place a piece of tape on your club
and hit a shot. The ball will make a mark on the tape which will show you
your contact point. Hopefully you will find you are consistently finding
the center of the clubface. Make sure you test both woods and irons as
you want solid contact with all clubs.
If you find that your contact is not as solid as you would
like, look at two things to improve your swing. Make sure your posture at
set up and throughout your swing is in an athletic position that you maintain
during your swing. Good posture will help you swing the club around your
body consistently “on plane” which leads to center hits.
Once you are satisfied with your contact point, the next key
to distance is trying to increase your swing speed. In the golf swing
there are three power sources that will help you swing the club faster.
The combination of proper wrist action, an arm swing that puts the club in
position throughout the swing and a powerful body pivot that supports the
swinging action of the club will allow the club to swing consistently and
Finally, if you feel you are making solid contact and are
using your power sources, make sure your equipment
fits your swing. Clubs and balls that are fitted specifically for your
swing will probably give you an extra few yards as well.
Learning to hit the ball longer is a very fun part of the
improvement process. Examine your current swing and determine your needs.
With a little practice, hopefully you will find a few more yards.
Remember if you do hit the ball farther, you will have
shorter approach shots to the hole. It is important to work hard on short
game distance control so you can take advantage of your distance and hit it
closer. This should take pressure off your putting game and allow you to
improve your scoring average.
Consistency is the number one goal of all players from Jordan
Spieth to Jack Nicklaus. Distance,
Direction and Trajectory make up the elements of the ball-flight. Golfers need all three elements for
consistent ball striking. I believe that
the sequence of learning is: trajectory,
distance and direction. The three
components are interrelated and we cannot have one with out the other.
Trajectory is controlled by:
Selection- the club is designed to provide loft. Allow the manufacturer to get the ball
of Approach- the correct angle of approach provides solid impact and the proper
consistency starts here. Grip, posture,
ball-position, aim, mind-set and tension level are the fundamentals of the
plane- a vertical swing shape will produce high shots and a flat swing shape
will produce lower shots.
speed- without swing speed the golfer has a difficult time producing loft. Golfers with a limited swing speed will
produce the same trajectory for all clubs.
Distance is controlled by:
Selection- longer clubs longer shots.
of motion- increased range of motion will assist in distance.
of contact- hitting the ball in the center of the racket. Path and plane are significant
influences. Vertical plane produces toe
hits and a flat plane produces heel hits.
speed at impact. Body rotation, arm
speed and wrist movement are the biggest influences. Overall swing speed is a goal not club head
Direction is controlled by:
parallel lines of the eyes, shoulders, forearms, hips, knees and heels.
alignment at impact. Clubface at right
angle to your swing path at impact.
path at impact. A swing path that is
from the inside to along the target line to the inside.
Every golf lesson and group activity I participate in every
golfer is in search of consistency. Ball
flight has three elements: trajectory, distance and direction. You master all three in order to gain