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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Forget the Swing

Golf is all about the strike.  The most beautiful swing means nothing if the strike it produces is off.  That's one reason why Harvey Penick advised us to always aim at something when we took a practice swing.  Somehow, though most golfers understand the importance of the strike, we tend to get focussed on our swing.  We start to think about our backswing--are we turning our shoulders enough, are we on plane, did we shift our weight properly?  We even sometimes think about our follow through--even though, by then, the damage has been done and the ball is long gone.  

It's the strike that counts.  We wouldn't probably suggest anyone swing a club like Arnold Palmer, or Lee Trevino, or even Jack Nicklaus for that matter.  But we'd all give our right arm to have been able to strike the ball like they did.  

I've written lately about Henry Cotton's tire drill.  It's ingenious.  It can really cure what ails many of us.  When you whack that tire, you get the feel of a solid strike.  Whack it with your left hand, if you're a right-handed player, and you immediately find out whether you are effectively using both hands in delivering the strike.  Initially, some people can hardly break an egg swinging with their left hand only; let alone hit it.  But after a few tries, they learn just how hard they can hit with the back of their left hand.

The tire drill helps people get a good grip as well.  You soon find the best way to hold the club when you whack a tire using one hand, then the other, then both.  You find that the best grip has the palms facing each other and basically mirroring the clubface.  You can't effectively whack the tire using one hand if your hand is twisted way over or under.  As a right-handed player you deliver the strike with the back of the left hand and the palm of the right hand.  It's only natural, as a few whacks at the tire will tell you.

The tire drill also helps with your backswing.  You soon realize, when whacking the tire is all you care about, that you don't need to lift the arms high, or make any loops in the backswing.  You just take it back until you feel able to deliver a good whack and fire away.  You may start looking a bit less graceful, but you'll be breaking eggs.  You might start looking more like a caveman killing his lunch, but, if you do, you might start hitting it more like Lee Trevino.

Get yourself a tire.  There's nothing quite as therapeutic as whacking something with a stick.  But use an old, steel-shafted club--preferably a heavy one.  You'll be building some serious golf muscle as well.  If it works for you, don't thank me.  Thank Henry Cotton and whoever it was that left the tire in the club parking lot--but that's another story.