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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Your Swing and How to Find It

When I watch good players in our area, like Larry Powell and Doug Green, what strikes me is the consistency with which they swing the club.  Their tempo never seems to change.  I really enjoy playing with them because good tempo and rhythm can rub off on you.  That's why the pros always loved to be paired with Sam Snead, or Ernie Els, or Freddie Couples.  It's the absence of effort, or hit, that's so impressive when those guys swing the club.  They let the club do the work.

Lots of golfers have a smooth, effortless practice swing.  But, when they stand over the ball, everything often changes.  We were playing behind a guy with a great practice swing the other day.  They were holding us up a bit, so I had time to point it out to Spiros.  Sure enough, this guy kept making this silky practice swing and then, when it was time to take care of business, he lurched at the ball like he was trying to kill a snake.

Most of us would love to play with our practice swing.  However, unless you are aiming at a piece of grass, or a bit of clover, when you make your practice swing, according to Harvey Penick, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.  The golf swing is strictly for the purpose of striking the ball solidly.  Looking pretty is okay.  But it's always the strike that counts.

I have finally discovered that my swing--the swing I don't have to think about, or make compensations with--is the one I make when I close my eyes, or when I'm clipping dandelions.  I have become more and more successful these days at sticking with that swing.  And it's producing some good results.

One of Harvey Penick's best drills was the "clip the tee" drill.  He'd have his students keep practicing clipping the top of a tee in the ground.  Then he'd have them make that swing with a golf ball, focussing on clipping the tee from under the ball.  The result was a square clubface at impact.  He didn't know why it worked.  But it did.

If you want to find your swing, try taking some swings with your eyes closed.  You'll find your natural tempo.  You'll swing in balance and within yourself--otherwise you'll probably end up flat on your arse.  Once you've done that, start clipping the tee.  Once you can consistently clip the tee, make your swing with a ball in front of you, focussing only on clipping the tee, or as Harry Vardon said, "Chopping the legs out from under it."  If you do that, you'll be using your swing and I think you'll be surprised at the results.  It may not necessarily be as pretty a swing as Freddie's.  But it will be yours.  And you'll know how to find it.