Golf can be a difficult game. But with these perfect golf swing tips, golf will be more enjoyable and you may even win a few skins from your friends.
In the hierarchy of golf movies, I would put Caddyshack as “1A” followed by Tin Cup as “1B”. In the latter, Kevin Costner plays the lovable, loser, golf pro, Roy McAvoy. Roy is the owner/operator of a remote driving range in Texas where he spends his days teaching golf, eating hot dogs, and betting on anything with his compadre, Romeo (played by Cheech Marin), and their group of friends. Roy meets his new student Molly (played by René Russo) and is dismayed to find out she’s the girlfriend of his longtime nemesis, David Simms, an accomplished pro golfer.
During his golf lesson with Molly, Roy waxes poetic about the golf swing and it’s during that scene where he utters the immortal and eminently accurate words, with respect to the golf swing, “perfection is unattainable”. So, while these tips may be about the perfect golf swing, you will never make a perfect golf swing. Nobody ever has, from your 18-handicap, weekend duffer to the immortal Jack Nicklaus.
Benefits of Golf
Does golf have fitness and health benefits? You don’t get your heart rate up very much. You don’t lift a lot of weight. It’s not really mentally challenging. But that doesn’t mean golf doesn’t have its benefits.
No matter your skill level, you still have to stretch your muscles a bit. You also have to swing your arms and shoulders. You can drive a cart; but, many golfers like to walk when they play. There are obvious benefits for maintaining and improving your eye-hand coordination. Finally, if the competition isn’t too intense, golf is inherently a social game. Much can be revealed while walking a fairway or studying a green.
I was golfing once with friends on the Fort Polk, Louisiana, golf course. It was a weekday and the course wasn’t that crowded. The Course Manager let us go out as a fivesome (four being the usual maximum for a golfing group). He reminded us that if there were faster players/groups behind us we should let them “play through”. Before we had a chance to tee off on a particular hole, a single golfer came up behind us. We offered to let him play through, but he asked if he could join our group instead. We told him that would be fine and off we went.
As we were walking down the fairway, as you might expect, we all introduced ourselves to our new friend. I extended my hand and told him my name was “Bill Wilson”. He nodded with a serious look in his eye, shook my hand, and introduced himself. Down the next fairway, he asked again for my name. I thought that kind of strange but answered again “Bill Wilson”. “No, what’s your REAL name?” At this point, I wasn’t sure what to think. I fished my ID out of my wallet and handed it to him proving I was, in fact, William Wilson.
He apologized and handed me the coin he used to mark his ball on the green. On one side it read “Hi, my name is Bill” and on the opposite side it read “Alcoholics Anonymous”. He explained to me that Bill Wilson was the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and when members of his local AA would meet someone who they had seen at an AA meeting they would introduce themselves as “Bill Wilson”. This served to let the other individual know they, too, were an alcoholic. Who would’ve thunk it?
I apologize for the distraction. Now, back to our original topic…
Importance of Your Grip
Everything about your golf swing begins with your grip. Too strong and you are going to hook everything. Too weak and you get the opposite reaction or what is known as a “slice”. This is the nemesis of most recreational golfers. They are forever chasing their drive off to the right (for right-handers) or the left for southpaws. Usually, that means they are in the trees are what we used to refer to as the “gorsk”. Imagine knee-high thicket that is impossible to hit through.
I hate to admit it; but, I was a terrible slicer for years. Here’s a free tip I received from the Course Manager at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. President George W. Bush was arriving to play and the Secret Service was out in force and had everything else on pause. The Course Manager had been watching me on the driving range and without solicitation gave me a simple tip to strengthen my weak grip.
He said that the problem most slicers had was the angle of the club when they began their grip. The most common thing to do would be to rest the club-head on the ground and take your grip. Instead, he advised me to rest the club-head on some raised object like the tire of a cart or the lower storage area on my golf bag. PRESTO – no more slice.
The backswing is an often overlooked part of the golf swing. It’s important because it loads power into the club from both the swinging of the arms and the turn of the hips. It’s that second part that most recreational golfers fail to execute.
You will always be hitting your second shot before your playing partners if you only use your arms in your golf swing. In other words, they will forever be out driving you.
A proper backswing results in the club-head swinging back behind your head and pointing at your target. This necessitates a slight bending of the wrists. At the same time, your hips should rotate exposing your back to the direction you want to hit the ball. Only when you reach this proper position should you think about uncoiling your hips and swinging the club to hit the ball.
The Ball Strike
This brings us to where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. In order to make the ball do what you want the ball to do you must strike it correctly. Every part of the golf swing is all about this point.
Back to the movie, Tin Cup. When Kevin Costner’s character, Roy McAvoy, was commenting on the swing to strike the ball, his mantra was that the swing was always down as if pulled by the center of the earth. It’s this necessary downward trajectory of the club that trips up average golfers.
Their tendency is to want to try to scoop the ball off the grass. This is the primary reason weekend duffers don’t hit the ball very far. It’s also why your average golfer sometimes barely disturbs the grass while low-handicap and professional golfers create sizable divots. The key is to let the loft of the club on a downward trajectory direct the path of the ball and not try to “pick it” off the ground.
A quick comment on the golf ball. For years, I’ve heard weekend golfers talk about how shot distance and accuracy is determined by the “feel of the ball”. They claim some golf balls “feel softer” and go further with more accuracy. Yes, some golf ball materials present more resistance to the golf club than others. But, my honest opinion is that, in all the years I’ve golfed, all golf balls pretty much feel the same when struck correctly.
Of critical importance during this phase of the golf swing, you must keep your eyes down and your head steady. The eyes down part should be obvious. You can’t strike the ball correctly if you can’t see the ball. Keeping the head steady follows from the need to keep your eyes down. It also helps you to properly unload the power you’ve stored in your hips and arms during the backswing.
It’s appropriate to rotate those hips around your spinal column and naturally, but ever so slightly, allow the heel of your back foot to come off the ground. Poor ball-strikers overemphasize that heel lift and pay a price in shot distance and accuracy because of it.
I’ve bested golfers using expensive Titleist golf balls and $1400 iron sets while playing a decidedly unmanly, pink lady golf ball, using an $80 set of clubs I bought at Kmart. I’m not bragging about my golfing abilities. My point is that supposed golf ball “feel” might be a good marketing ploy to sell golf balls. But, it loses every time to better technique.
Our protagonist in Tin Cup, Roy, commented that every golfer’s follow-through is unique. This is true. Your follow-through will be yours and yours alone. What you do in that follow-through makes a big difference in whether your shot travels the distance it should and is on target.
Amateurs sometimes tend to want to almost stop the club swing after they’ve struck the ball (usually poorly). This stopping action pushes the hands too far in front of the club and saps distance from the shot. It also creates a situation often leading to a slice.
To correct this, always continue your follow-through for what is a comfortable distance for you. Your follow-through will never do you wrong if it remains in a plane toward your target.
Putting Perfect Golf Swing Tips All Together
One thing is clear, the golf swing is not easy. It takes practice and usually patience to master. If you start with a good grip, make a proper backswing, strike the ball with a downward trajectory, and execute your personal follow-through in line with your target, you will get better.
Remember: even executing these perfect golf swing tips well… perfectly, perfection of the golf swing itself is unattainable. Just ask Roy.
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