I met Marvin at a little boutique hotel in Hilton Head. Marvin, his brother in law, and I went out for a game and we have been great friends ever since. Marvin took up the game later in life and was shooting in the nineties and higher, playing once a week with some of his buddies from the Navy in Jacksonville. He hits the ball a long way, but not always in the right general direction.
Marvin called me today and told me that his last three rounds have been in the eighties, including an 83. He said he had finally understood what I had been talking about with the hammer the nail idea and the back of the left hand going through impact square to the target line. While it hadn't registered for him with my attempts to describe the idea, after watching a Golfchannel segment that demonstrated how the ball must be struck, he got it.
After understanding that he needed to focus on the strike by hammering the imaginary nail and keeping the back of his left hand going down the target line through impact, he improved his ballstriking to the point that he was suddenly scoring in the eighties. Marvin emphasized that he was picturing this strike with every shot, including his putts.
It all comes down to where your focus is when hitting a golf ball. Often, golfers are focussed on anything but hitting the ball. They are thinking about their backswing, or their shoulder turn, or their weight shift--not on striking the ball correctly. This was what Bobby Jones taught. We need to stand up to the ball in a position that feels comfortable and relaxed, and from which we feel ready and able to strike the ball as we wish. Then we just do it.
It sounds remarkably simple, but I've seen this "hammer the nail" image work over and over again; including for myself when I get thinking about my swing and lose focus. Bobby Jones said that he focussed intently on the strike while competing and left his swing to take care of itself. Sounds simple, doesn't it? That's because it actually is. Golf is a simple game that we've managed to make very complicated with all these swing thoughts and theories. In the end, the ball really only responds to how it is struck. Your backswing doesn't impress it at all. Neither does your follow-through for that matter.