Trim Your Score-Your golf season may be winding down, so you won’t be playing as much golf, but that doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about your game. In fact, the off-season is a good time to start thinking about learning new shots or perfecting ones that challenged you in the past. Keeping your body, as well as your mind, up to date with the latest techniques and how to hit certain shots away from the course can help you improve your game in the future.
“The best psychologist in the world is a square clubface at impact,” – Ben Hogan
To be a consistent ball striker, you should strive to swing with a square clubface at all times, unless, of course, you are trying to intentionally curve the ball. Golf is a hard enough game hitting the ball straight, let alone fighting an open or closed clubface at impact.
Watch a good player swing and you almost always see a smooth, rhythmic start to their backswing. So what starts the club back? If you look at the swing as a series of circles, the clubhead makes the biggest circle, followed by the circle the hands make, followed by the circle the body makes as it turns back and forth. So since the clubhead has to travel the farthest, you want to start the clubhead back first.
With a correct grip, your hand and wrist should rotate the clubhead so it stays square to the body throughout the swing. When the club is parallel to the ground, the toe of the club will point up. This is a square clubface. The palm of your right hand and the back of your left hand (if you are right-handed) should end up in what we instructors call the “shake hands” position. As you follow through, again the hands and wrists rotate so that when the club is parallel to the ground once again the toe of the club will point up.
If your hands roll to start your swing, then the clubface will be open. If you try to keep the clubface going straight back without any forearm and wrist arm rotation, then clubface is closed.
Check your halfway position in your golf swing and strive to keep the clubface square.
Understand and identify your swing faults (if you have any) and the physical limitations that may cause them. Swing faults, which are technical flaws in your golf swing, can be can be caused from physical limitations and or from improper swing mechanics such as lack strength and inflexibility in critical areas of the body.
Your flexibility, strength, coordination, balance and stability, which is your body’s ability to maintain certain positions for a length of time, in your golf specific muscles are imperative to making a good golf swing and playing your best. If you have any physical limitations or weaknesses, they will affect the way you swing a golf club. For example, if you have tight hamstring muscles, it will be difficult for you to maintain the correct amount of spine angle during the swing. You may “come out of the shot” or “stand up” through impact, which can cause topped or weak shots. If you lack strength or flexibility in your hips or buttocks, you may not be able to shift your weight properly and as a result lose power and consistency.
Identifying your swing faults and physical limitations are absolutely necessary to building a fundamentally sound golf swing. Identifying and correcting your swing faults and physical limitations should be a focal point in your golf specific fitness program. Playing golf with physical limitations or common swing flaws can cause serious injury to the most vulnerable parts of your body such as the low back, neck, elbows and wrists. Identifying and correcting swing flaws will not only improve your golf game, but also help you prevent the most common golf injuries.
To read more about golf fitness check out my book available at Amazon.com.
Karen Palacios-Jansen is an LPGA Teaching Professional and Certified Personal Trainer. She developed Cardiogolf, a golf-specific fitness system available at KPJgolf.com.