What We Can Learn From Golf's Greats

Have you ever wondered why children seem to learn things so much quicker than adults do?

Whether it's skiing, dancing, or playing golf, children are wonderful imitators and tend to copy the techniques of others and they do so with no fear.

As adults, we can improve our golf swings by copying or imitating the great players we see on TV and in magazines. Among great players we see many different shapes and styles of swings, but there are some commonalities that all great ball strikers have in their swings that we can learn from.

So, as you watch golf or see pictures of golfers this summer, pay attention to these key areas to improve your golf game.


The Set-Up
 
The foundation of the golf swing is the set-up. The elements of a golfer's set up are grip, posture and alignment. Without doing these things correctly, it is extremely hard to make a consistent or efficient golf swing.

The position of our hands on the golf club determines where the clubface is at impact. We want our hand in a position where the golf club is square to the target line coming into the golf ball without having to manipulate the hands. Watch players grip and see how much they are turned to the right or left and how they are positioned together.

When looking at a player's posture the areas to look at are the following:

  • The player is bent from hips with rear end out.
  • The spine is relatively straight; shoulders are not rounded.
  • The player's knees are only slightly flexed.
  • The player's chin is up.
  • The golfer's arms are hanging from shoulders so that their hands are hanging below their chin.
  • Their feet are about shoulder width about apart.
  • Their hands are centered in relationship to their chest.
  • Their left shoulder is slightly higher right.

Backswing

The purpose of the backswing is to put the golfer in a position to make a powerful and on-plane downswing. The more efficient the backswing, the easier it is to make a good downswing.

When watching the golf swing, there are two angles to study the golfer from. On the side of the golfer and facing the golfer.

We learn the most about the golfer from the side angle. From this position the things we want to look for are the following:

  • At the halfway point of the backswing the shaft of the golf club should be parallel to the ground and pointing directly down the target line.
  • At the top of the backswing the player's hands should be in a position between the players right shoulder and the center of their chest.

When we are looking at the golfer from straight on, at the top of his backswing, the left shoulder should be rotated over the right knee and the lower body should be braced to help resist rotation or sliding of the hips. In this position the golfers back is almost facing the target.


The Forward Swing and Impact

The transaction between the backswing and the forward swing is one of the most critical elements of the golf swing. In an efficient golf swing, th eforward swing is one in which the golf club returns on the same path that it took in the backswing.

The areas to watch for in the forward swing are the following:

  • The transaction between the backswing and forward swing starts with the lateral movement of the hips.
  • At the halfway point of the forward swing the golf club should again be parallel to the ground and pointing down the target line. This is the same position it was in at this point in the backswing.
  • In looking at the swing from the side of the golfer, at impact the golf club and the hands should return to a similar position that they were at address.

Follow Through

The follow through is simply a result of what has happened in the rest of the golf swing. In watching a great player's swing, the player will finish in a very balanced position with the majority of their weight on the front foot and their chest facing the target.

As you study the different elements of the great player's swings try to incorporate these into your own game. By swinging in front of a mirror or video taping your swings you can see where you are in relationship to these checkpoints. The more efficient your golf swing becomes the better you scores will be.