Golf Swing Secrets

By Mike Southern
One reason Tom Watson takes a smooth, consistent swing is that both of his knees remain gently flexed.
One reason Tom Watson takes a smooth, consistent swing is that both of his knees remain gently flexed.

Everybody looks for the "secret" that will make golf simple. They expect some special move or obscure grip that will suddenly get them swinging the club like a pro. There is no magic move, but there are some simple things you can do that will make your game improve almost instantly. Best of all, they don't require a lot of practice.

Acceleration

You've probably been told that you need to accelerate your putting stroke or chipping stroke to make solid contact. When you try it, you end up jerking the club off line. Here's the secret: Gravity creates constant acceleration. If you swing the club downward, it automatically accelerates. The problem is that most people stop the club when it hits the ball. Don't hit at the ball; swing through it. Here's the fix: As long as your follow through is at least as long as your backswing, you'll accelerate through the shot.

Over the Top Swings

You've heard a hundred different ways to stop coming over the top on your downswing, but none of them work. Here's the secret: If you go over the top coming down, you probably bend your elbow and lift your hands when you start back. When you finally finish turning your upper body, your hands are lower than your shoulders and you have to lift almost straight up to get to the top of your backswing. Here's the fix: Turn your shoulders first, and don't bend your elbow until your hands get to waist high. That will put you on the correct plane, and you'll start your downswing with a downward motion instead of an upward move.

Thin and Fat Shots

No matter how hard you try, you can't seem to hit the ball solidly. You either hit behind the ball or don't hit the ground at all. You try to keep your head down, but you jerk it up. Here's the secret: Your head doesn't stabilize your body, your knees do. They're like shock absorbers on a bumpy road – they act independently to keep your body level. Most players try to drive their knees into the shot; instead, they just straighten them. (Or, more often, only one of them.) Here's the fix: Keep both knees gently flexed throughout your entire swing. Let your lower body relax and support your upper body as you swing the club. Just like shocks, they'll smooth out your swing and keep you level for more consistent strikes.

Casting the Club

Too many players cast the club at the top of their backswing like a fishing rod, losing their wrist cock before their hands get halfway down. Here's the secret: Your hands don't do anything during the golf swing except hold the club. Ben Hogan put it this way: "The hands consciously do nothing but maintain a firm grip on the club." The key word is consciously. Casting means you're consciously flinging your wrists. Here's the fix: Keep your wrists and forearms as relaxed as possible during the swing. Your wrists will cock when you change direction at the top of your swing, and the weight of the club will keep them cocked until your hands get down to waist level.

About the Author

North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.

Photo Credits

  • Phil Inglis/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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