You’ll remember my saying more than once that I have never made a decent swing on a ball before, and while some might say I’m exaggerating, this is true.
I’ve never felt comfortable over the ball and made a good swing, is the finer point of it. I’ve either felt comfortable over the ball and hit a horrific shot or felt constricted and lost over the ball and hit a decent shot (decent describing the result and not the feel nor the swing action).
The reason is the old saw – when I began playing golf and booked lessons with either the first or second of my instructors (my last lesson was about 25 years ago because I hated throwing good money after bad), I never was taught an athletic golf swing (crucial for a former athlete who goes by feel and intuition after drilling the fundamentals), and I never felt “athletic” over the ball.
We all know the experience – Modern Golf Swing lessons obsess about this position or that position in the swing, without ever explaining the stance or why it should be so, and there are as many setups and swing mechanics as there are instructors, which is why finding a good instructor is akin to throwing darts at a board while blindfolded.
Even with the Mikes Austin and Dunaway in their instructional videos – they treated the body as if it is the same body for everyone, with no variation, and something like “the heels are 18″ or 45 cm apart” is completely useless for setting up the feet.
We are not all the same height, nor do we have the same body type, so a person much taller than a very short person wouldn’t have the exact same stance width, would they?
As the setup is absolutely crucial, this is the part where certain principles must be followed to ensure a proper swing action and result, and one of those principles is “shoulders square to the target line at impact.”
In this regard, I am just now figuring out and building the stance and setup I require in order to fulfill that principle of impact, and I am finally beginning to feel comfortable over the ball both at address and during the swing.
Before, I might feel comfortable over the ball, feel great during the back swing, and proceed to hit a “what was that?” kind of shot.
Conversely, I have felt paralyzed over the ball and completely at sea while making my pivot and down swing, and made decent contact through manipulation and hand-eye coordination.
There is of course the 3rd option as well – feeling awkward over the ball and hitting a terrible shot.
I’ve done all three, but have never felt at ease and athletic over the ball and made a good swing with a good result.
I’ve hit fabulous shots, either drives or approaches, but I never knew what the result was going to be until impact and I watched my ball flight.
“Here Goes… Oh, There’s A Nice One.”
Of course, that’s because I was overly focused on my lower body stepping into position over the ball.
I would then either make sure my shoulders were square (and they almost never were, because if my feet and lower body felt square and proper to the target line, I assumed all was good to go) or I wouldn’t even check, and proceed to make a comfortable swing and disaster would ensure.
In the times I contorted myself to make my entire body square to the target line, it wasn’t a natural position but if I focused very hard and controlled the swing, I could pull off a decent result with hand-eye, but never felt comfortable over it.
That’s because I was shoe-horning myself into the “standard” setup of the MCS Golf Swing model, which likely works perfectly for nearly everyone who has a standard or normal physique, but I required major adjustment in the setup.
“Boy, This Feels Weird… But Hey, There’s A Good One.”
I had previously put my issues with swinging while setting up standard to the ball as being left-dominant and that I was unconsciously swinging down over the top rather than it being my own body betraying me.
Now, as I work on my setup to the imaginary ball and target line using my shoulders and the club face as the guide to be “square” while just moving my feet to establish the proper distance from and angle to the ball and target line, wouldn’t you know that it feels great in the upper body and awkward with the foot position?
However, once I am in motion swinging, I feel fabulously athletic and in proper place with regards to the ball and target line.
That is because I am now in the position to make a proper, un-manipulated swing and actually come to impact to produce the desired metrics of that impact.
The beauty of it is, after while, my proper setup position will feel completely natural and comfortable, because feels do adjust over time to the changes one makes.
It has occurred to me today that the focus is on the wrong body parts while setting up the address before making a swing.
Most instruction involves putting the club on the ground behind the ball and then setting oneself up to the club and ball, but I’m finding far greater success setting up properly by doing what some pros do – which is to set one’s grip on the club and then set up to the ball having already established the upper body position with respect to the ball and target line.
So, it’s not a revelation nor is it something new that I’ve invented, but it’s certainly different from the procedure most of us have used.
So, the next time you see a pro hold the club out from him or herself (usually parallel to the ground) and meticulously establish their grip on the club before even approaching the ball – that there is a good way to do it.