I was in the middle of a lesson the other day and there was a golfer practicing next to the lesson using a new training aid system that got my curiosity up. I had a brief chat with the golfer to find out what he was using to “help” him with his swing and he enthusiastically told me it was a Zepp Golf Training Aid like the one pictured below. It measures the most important aspects of your swing: club speed, club plane, tempo, back swing length and more. As he was hitting shots he had his smart phone positioned between his legs and after every shot he would look down and see his results
Now from my position what I was watching was a swing with no visible weight shift , a loss of posture and mostly a violent swipe at the ball with the ball going everywhere. Now don’t get me wrong here …I’m not criticizing the golfer or his efforts to get better but you could learn to get better at your swing with much simple training aids – most made at home that would immediately show you and help you feel weight shift , better posture , and hitting the ball on target long before this Zepp swing system ever will. That’s true for the bulk of the other swing app and training systems you wear. From my point of view if a training aid doesn’t “show and tell you” what to feel in a golf swing and help you repeat that both in practice and under the pressure of a game or competition its pretty useless.
As golf addicts we all have to be careful to not get sucked into the idea that some new fangled gadget has all the solutions for our swing and also not buy into the idea that getting an expensive training system in and of itself will solve all of our swing issues.
My two cents! ??
So I just got back from Ireland the other day having enjoyed my visit and after having driven on the “Grand” island for seven days straight. Now that may not seem unusual to you until you realize as I did pretty much abruptly that all of that driving is on the LEFT HAND side of the road!
Now I've been driving for a little over 40 years so I have lots of experience driving cars of all types ( I was a valet a million years ago ) as well as fairly big trucks and had my “D” license driving big trucks double clutching through the city for almost a year but nothing prepared me for this driving challenge!
I had no expectation of driving on this trip because my son and his girlfriend had said they were going to be the drivers so it hadn’t even crossed my mind that I would be driving – let alone on the wrong side of the road ;). Well when we go to get the rental car its “decided” that it would be best if the most experienced driver in the bunch … as in “me” should also be on the car as the alternate driver and not my sons girlfriend . After a bit of humming and hawing I decided to myself – just how hard could it be?
When we went to pick up the car they didn’t have the class car we had rented – some basic model and instead upgraded us to a Mercedes C type sedan – brand new to boot. Now normally I’d be ecstatic that we’ve been upgraded and all but put yourself in my shoes … never driven left handed … in a brand new Mercedes that you can easily ding up …with 3 other passengers you’re responsible for if you “%$#@” up!
Not an easy pill to swallow.
As luck would have it my son volunteered to drive the car out of the car lot saving me the immediate pressure of being behind the wheel BUT I did know that my turn was coming soon.
And it did come when we were in a sleepy little town just after we had stopped for lunch. Its very hard to mentally switch your driving universe from right to left beginning with sitting on the right hand side of the car where the steering wheel is ;). My very first right hand turn I started to turn into the wrong lane out of habit until my son gently corrected me and said No “Dad” the other lane. Numerous times I looked at a sticker that was on my dash in front of me reminding me that I had to stay in the left lane and believe it or not that silly sticker helped me a lot.
Gradually over the course of the week that we were there I overcame my fear of getting behind the wheel and on the last day I drove the entire width of Ireland From Galway to Dublin by myself ( about 4-5 hours) and was so comfortable in the Mercedes that on the highway I was doing 160 km/hr without even thinking about it – and being passed by other cars to boot!
So why tell you this little story? Well I think learning golf is a lot like the challenge I faced down.
At first your scared of hitting a driver or playing a golf course you don’t know or not sure what swing you have for that particular day but anyway you look at it you have to face the fear of doing it and do it anyway. Even if you do screw up you’ll be stronger for it and if you don’t screw up you”ll be ten times stronger.
Your brain and body can do a lot of amazing things if you let them but you just have to try. Whatever you’re most afraid of in your golf game is exactly what you need to work at and if you do you’ll be a much stronger player for it. And since I just came back from Ireland what I would say to you is that would be “Grand”!
What Is a Golf Swing ???
Its the first question I ask every new student and it’s the first question Id like to ask you?
What do you think? … Is it a carefully controlled takeaway followed by a downswing on an inside attacking plane? Is it a dynamic turn followed by a carefully timed hit? When I ask this question the answers I get are often very creative and detailed just like these ones.
After this has gone on for a minute with my new student I have to end the confusion with a simple answer.
The Golf Swing is nothing more than a THROW. You’ve been throwing things all your life haven’t you?
This concept is so important for your game and will be extremely mind clearing / confusion busting and especially important for beginning golfers to hear and learn before they’re exposed to all the conflicting instruction / apps/ golf channel / YouTube videos etc.
I was on the range yesterday with a little time between lessons and spotted a couple that were struggling to make the ball go anywhere and I stopped by to teach them this concept.
Now as luck would have it one was right handed and the other a left handed golfer . The concept applies no matter how you play
Once I had asked them this same question and said that the golf swing is nothing more than a throw I calmly went to the tee and hit a ball one handed well with little or no effort. I asked them as I would ask you can I make the golf swing look any more simple than that?
They both answered no with a confused look on their face…
Now as you get to know me I’m a real world results kind of guy and I want YOU to experience this feeling NOW… so follow along with what I taught this couple and tell me in the comments how its worked for you ?
The first thing I had them do was just to hold on to the club with their right hand if they’re a right handed golfer and with their left hand if they’re a left handed golfer. This is the arm you’ve chosen to throw with for your golf swing . (If you’re a right handed golfer who throws with your left arm for your best success you’re going to have to learn to throw right handed and the same applies if your a left handed golfer who throws with your right)* that’s not to say you couldn’t deliver a powerful blow with your front arm but you’ll more naturally and much more quickly learn an easy throwing golf swing with what I’ve recommended here
Choke down on the club so that you’re almost at the shaft so that the clubs effectively lighter for you to move
What I want you to do here is make some one handed throwing motions taking the club back and throwing it through to a full finish. As you’re doing this I want you to pretend you and I are up at the cottage and were having a competition to see who can throw their club farther out into the lake. There is no result other than imagining the club flying out of your hand and landing far out in the lake. Notice as your making this throwing motion how you use your whole body to throw the club out into the lake. Notice how light your arm feels using this throwing motion compared to what you may be doing now.You’ll know if you’ve made a good full throwing motion if you can finish in balance on your forward leg with all of your weight there and you can balance a drink on your back foot and keep it there until the ball stops
3. Think of all the times you’ve thrown something whether that’s a football, baseball, Frisbee…it really doesn’t matter …your lower body starts the motion forward BEFORE you hit the ball. I often have students that are finding this concept a little difficult to feel to put their body in a position as if they were going to hit or punch me but do the punch in slow motion … try this yourself … I’m willing to bet the first thing you moved was your lower body stepping first towards me before you hit me. You intuitively know that you would have minimal power with just hitting me with your arms
4. When you feel comfortable with this one armed throwing motion I want you to try and move to a two handed/ armed throw …notice I haven’t said hit a ball yet How does it feel … are you shifting your weight first before you hit the ball ? …and are you still winding up in a good finish position with your drink balanced on your back foot?
5. When you feel comfortable with this two armed throwing feeling lets start hitting some balls with it
6. Concentrate on feeling a throwing motion and do your best to detach from the “thinking” part of your brain ….its very hard to give up control but the paradox in golf is that the more your give up control the more effortlessly you’ll swing and hit good shots
7. When you first try this new throwing motion there are two big problems that may show up … the first is topping the ball and the second is hitting behind the ball. When you top the ball you can either be keeping your weight on your back foot at impact or coming up through impact.
8. If your weight is still on your back foot you need to feel like your shift forward with your throw happens sooner and if your still topping it then we need to focus on your posture.
9. The very best quick fix for posture is not to keep your head down but to focus on your butt and knees and for the purpose of this simple exercise I want you to focus on hearing grass every time you swing a club. To help you remember that I’ve created a slogan that Ive used for many years that all my students know and it goes like this … “No Ass – No Grass! ” what do I mean by that ? …well most students postures don’t have enough flex in their butts at set up and through the swing and in fact lose this posture during their swing …but instead of getting complicated I just want you to hear grass on every practice swing and real swing you make from now on – that should really start to help your posture and when you don’t hear grass your number one thought should be your *%$ is misbehaving and straightening out losing its flex. It could also be your knee action but lets worry about that later.
10. If you’re still hitting behind the ball and you know or feel your weight shift is better the only other possibility is that you are casting the club with your arms / wrists losing all of your power hitting the turf first but for the focus of this lesson you’ll greatly improve on your whole swing by focusing on a good weight shift first and we can fine tune your power angles later.
11. So your new throwing motion or “golf swing” consists of a throw to your target , having a full drink balanced on your back foot at the finish of your throw (a drink you enjoy until your ball stops) , and hearing grass on every swing your take from now on.
With just theses simple thoughts I have seen countless golfers seasoned as well as new find a natural golf swing / throw for themselves and I sincerely hope after trying this exercise you’ll be on your way to finding your best golf throw too
Oh and that couple that I stopped to help? … Well the gentleman started to hit much better shots even though it was a big change for him from his hitting action with no lower body motion at all and the ladies throwing motion was really fantastic to watch …instead of hitting at it frustratingly she was starting to throw the club and hit some amazing shots that she couldn’t believe Now was everything perfect with their golf “throws” ? … no ….but at least its a good and correct starting point on the way to real improvement.
If the golf swing can be as simple as a throw why are you complicating it ? That’s not to say that you can’t work on simplifying your throw and learn the key positions of your throw to make it more repeatable and reliable under some friendly pressure – but why complicate it beyond that ?
Stop thinking about the million parts to the golf swing and “Just Throw It!