The BIG Feeling
The key to solid driving is that you first get fully behind the ball as you wind up your backswing. Only then can your truly stay behind the ball as you unwind on the way back down. With the driver, one of the problems that I see a lot of amateurs struggle with is they get too far ahead of themselves on the way down, which results in the swing being too steep coming in to the ball.
For you to create the shallow swing path that you need to catch the ball at the very bottom of the arc, or even as the club begins to swing up, you have to make sure that you first get fully 'loaded' up, then wait a moment, and be patient from the top.
Next time you play, think about turning over an axis that runs up through your right foot and right hip as you turn your upper body and really wind up your backswing. Get the left shoulder under your chin and fully behind the ball, your weight across into your right side.
From the top, the first move down is key: you have to 'settle' into a position that frees the right side, and gives you the room then to accelerate the whole of your right side as you rotate hard through the ball.
As you change direction, a good feeling to have is that as you 'squat' on to your right thigh you swing your right hand away from the right shoulder. Trust me, it won't actually happen, but a feeling of doing that - of 'casting' the right hand and the club will encourage you to establish fantastic width as you make your way back to the ball.
Golfers have heard all about the importance of getting their weight across and on to the right side in the backswing, which is perfectly correct with a driver (as per the previous page). But with the irons - and particularly the mid- to short irons - the danger is that in moving too far 'off' the ball you risk losing the accuracy of your delivery coming back down.
Remember, you have to get back to the left side to strike the irons properly, which involves making sure that your body weight is centred more on top of the left foot as you hit the ball.
With a driver, if you can first get behind it and then stay behind it, you will enjoy flighting your tee-shots with a good powerful trajectory.
With the irons, if you get behind the ball and stay there, you are likely to hit it fat. To counter that, my advice is that you work on this feeling of being more on your left side throughout - i.e. staying more 'on top of the ball'.
The big feeling you should go after is that of turning your upper body away from the target without consciously shifting your weight across on to your right side - i.e. turn more about the axis of your left hip.
Be aware that when you work on this you are going to feel more weight on your left side during the backswing than you have done before - even though your left heel may still come up off the ground a tad, as mine has (inset). That's perfectly OK, provided the left knee retains its 'braced' position and that your weight is then fully on top of your left foot as you proceed to unwind through the ball.
The "BIG" feeling I want you to focus on with the chipping action is to turn your upper body over still legs. Nine times out of ten, mis-hits and generally poor ball control ball in the short game can be traced back to over-active legs and/or hands.
In order to develop a simple yet effective method that gives you total control over the delivery of the clubhead, you have to focus on turning your upper body over the stability of a 'quiet' leg action.
For anyone suffering around the greens, I guarantee that this will transform your chipping action. The key is that, from the set-up, you gently turn your stomach and shoulders over fairly still legs (but not rigid).
All the wrist action you need is pre-set via the grip and in the way that you then ease your hands ahead of the ball as you settle down over the shot.
From then on you are looking to repeat this simple back and through stroke, the hands and forearms relaxed, passive throughout.
To be a good bunker player you have to learn to be fairly aggressive. And at the same time you have to have a clear understanding of the type of impact that you are trying to achieve with the sand. My advice on these regular greenside trap shots is to hit a lot further behind the ball than you have probably ever been told to do - but at the same time take a long shallow cut.
Typically, a lot of golfers struggle in this situation because (1) they aim to strike the sand far too close to the ball, and (2) they hit down too steeply - the inevitable result being they take too much sand from directly underneath the ball, rather than from either side. Without the consistency of a shallow 'divot', there is no real control over the flight (if there is one).
The big feeling that can help you to overcome this problem is to hit the shot 'fat-thin', and with a fairly stiff-wristed swing. Once you are set up to the shot you simply follow an orthodox in-tosquare- to-in path (i.e. swing along the line of your body). Trust it, and the ball will come out with a softer flight and less spin when it lands (so it runs like a chip). Like a pro, you are using 'bounce' and creating much shallower impact.
Good players use the length of swing and the 'turnspeed' of their body to control their pitching distance. Using the 'speedo' principle certainly gives you a good feeling to work on: i.e. for a 40-yard pitch shot your swing cue is 40 mph. For 60 yards, you up your speed to 60 mph. And for 80 yards - pretty much a full swing with a gap-wedge - swing at 80 mph.
While this may not be a new idea, it's still the best imagery to have in mind to control the distance you land the ball. And the key in all this is that the through-swing must always reflect the length of the backswing. So, as you see here, a 40 mph shot sees me swing from approximately hip-high to hip-high - a totally controlled motion.
Sixty takes it that little bit further, while 80 mph is my absolute max.
Next time you practise, grip down the shaft a little, establish good balance, and make what you feel is a controlled 40 mph swing. Working at that 40 mph speed will see you finish in a balanced position that ties-in perfectly with the backswing.
Depending on the loft of the club, that 40 mph swing might give you a shot of, say, 40 or 50 yards. That's your benchmark, and from there you can then up the tempo to gradually increase landing distance. A 6o mph swing with the same club might land the ball 60 - 70 yards, while 80 mph gives you a shot of 80-90 yards.
The key to all this is to recognise and get a feel for the speed of the swing that gives you this sort of control, leaving you with a professional short-game scoring system you can trust.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine