My best golf is always played when I feel like I'm just patty-caking the ball. When I feel like I've got lots of club, and I feel like I don't have to strain, the ball tends to come off the club like a rocket. I wish I could learn to play with my lay-up swing. But put that driver in my hand and I suddenly want to kill something.
My father used to say, "Swing easy and accept the extra distance." He was right, of course.
I've been reading a book by Bob Toski called The Touch System for Better Golf. In the book Mr. Toski recommends learning to play by feel by working from the green back to the tee; learning to hit solid putts, then chips, then wedges, working your way back to the driver. He believes too many of us have not progressed as we might have because we essentially tried to run before we learned to walk. We didn't master the simple shots and swings before we reached for the big dog.
In that book Bob Toski also explains why we should never swing hard. Why, as Julius Boros also taught, we need to learn to "swing easy and hit hard." He explains that we are hitting a ball that weighs less than two ounces with a club that weighs about fourteen ounces. Why then do we feel we need to swing out of our shoes and lunge at the ball to get it moving? He also explains that kinetic energy is derived from an equation involving mass and speed, with speed being the most important part of the equation. So we need to make the club move faster and hit the ball with optimum mass, in other words in the centre of the club face, if we want to maximize the energy we transmit to the ball. It is speed we want, not force.
Toski advises us to think about the ball as though it was a ping pong ball, or a bubble. We want to swing through it instead of at it. We need to realize that, if we relax, and let the club do the work, we can hit it farther with must less work.
I think I'm going to try to remember just how small and light that golf ball is compared to the club. If I do, maybe I can learn to resist ruining as many shots by trying to add a little extra at the moment of truth. I am going to try to take Harry Vardon's advice when he said: "Don't press. You can hit hard without pressing."