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The Way I Play
Colin Montgomerie

I have four main thoughts when I'm practising. And I say practising deliberately, because I don't want any technical thoughts when I'm playing.

The courses that we tend to play on tour are set up in such a way that it's tough enough getting around them without having to think about the swing as well. So I often feel I'm oneup on those pro's who like to have several swing thoughts for different shots, practising as they play.

Very few can do that successfully.

Nick Faldo is one,Bernhard Langer another who can actually think about what it is they are doing as they do it. But that's not me. I just want to get out there and play. So, taking advantage of the rather unique setting here at Turnberry - and with a little artistic licence - let me demonstrate some of the simple swing thoughts that I rely on to play consistent golf.

I hope they help you. 'soft' on the grip, leaving the arms relaxed,ready to getthe swing,flowing.

Here's the first - and possibly most important - piece of advice I can give you: to get the clubhead truly swinging, you need a light grip pressure, one that leaves the arms relaxed, and one that allows you to feel the weight
of the clubhead on the end of the shaft.

It's no secret that most amateurs grip the club too tightly, a basic error that leads to a muscular grid-lock running up through the arms and into the shoulders. No chance from there.

A noticeable part of my pre-shot routine is the way in which I grip and re-grip as I set up to the ball.

All the time I am reinforcing this sense of feel in the hands and arms, ready to create swing - a simple reminder that works.

Why you need to have 'soft hands'

It's impossible for me not to repeat myself here, so let me reiterate it is the softness in the hands that allows me to get my swing started smoothly - i.e. over the tee-peg. Then it's a case of building on that momentum to continue all the way to a full backswing, as you see above. I remind myself to complete my backswing, and you should do the same.

If you are tense and grip too tightly, you probably cut your backswing short. The more relaxed you are, the further you can swing your arms (and the club) and the more power you generate. So you can see how this information layers itself one point on top of the next. From a good set-up, with soft hands on the grip, you can take the club back low and slow; relaxed arms and shoulders enable you to fully complete your backswing, whereupon you are in position to unwind freely through the ball to a balanced finish. Focus on the back of the ball and strike through with confidence. Why you absolutely must 'complete'

How do you avoid hitting the ball too high in the wind?

The best advice in any sort of wind is don’t fight it.

What I do is try to hit the ball softer. Some say tee the ball lower, or move it back in the stance, but do that and you’re liable to spray it all over the place. I believe it’s much more effective to stick with your regular set-up and simply swing softer. That creates less spin, the ball flies 10 feet off the ground and it will run on landing, especially on a links course.

For me, that’s a controlled shot, not one that is thrown to the mercy of the wind. So think: soft hands, soft swing. Make your regular backswing, then just let the ball get in the way. Resist the temptation to hit at it and swing smoothly through the shot. Same thing applies with the irons. Deep divots tell me I have swung the club too hard. But swing soft and I get a better strike, less spin, more control.

Always go with your dominant shot

I tend to take the club back fairly straight out. As a result, I hit a fade with every club in the bag. That’s my game and I allow for it. The swing essentially has to go inside - that’s physics. But I don’t exaggerate it because I think that creates too much a margin of error. I aim down the left side and I know it is going to fade back into the fairway. I have the whole fairway to aim into. If I am aiming right down the middle, I only have half of it to play with, because there’s no such thing as a perfectly straight shot. We all have a dominant shot, so use it to your advantage. Increase your target (and thus your margin for error). With a 5- iron, I aim at the middle of the green. I’m happy with that - assuming I hit a solid shot, I have a birdie putt. That ball is never going to go left. Some fly straighter than others, but never left - not if I commit to the shot. If I stop (my body) and quit on it, all sorts of things will happen. Hesitate and you fail. So always commit yourself, turn your stomach all the way through the shot to the finish, and watch the ball home in on your target.

Why a good start is key to it all: the first couple of feet set you on the perfect track

So, the No. 1 cue is soft hands. That at least gives you a chance to make a nice flowing swing. After that, I believe the most important thing you have to worry about is the first two feet of the swing - in this case from the ball to the tee you see behind, and very slightly inside the line to the target. If this first link in the chain is right, I can hit all of the other links very easily. But if that's wrong, I'm lost. The secret for me is that the arms and hands move together without much in the way of wrist action.

When I get started with this one-piece move, the clubhead glides back low and slow and the rhythm of the swing is established. Let me stress, most of you grip the club too tightly. So focus on those soft hands as you take the club low and slow over this first easy checkpoint. Glide the clubhead away and you set up a chain reaction that will lead you to a good backswing. As long as the hands and arms remain relaxed, you will get the club swinging. For many, that's the first obstacle.

Commit to striking all the way through the ball, and turn to a full finish

Anxiety ruins more shots that anything else. Typically, golfers are so anxious to find out where the ball has gone, they look up almost before they hit it. They never commit to the shot. That's why most amateurs hit the ball to the right; because they haven't rotated their body fully through they never give the club a chance to square up and swing through on a good line. If you end up with your body pointing right, that's where the ball will go. To remedy this, work on these simple keys: keep your hands soft, glide the clubhead away from the ball, complete your backswing and commit to a full follow through. Focus on your target and work on your rhythm. At my best, my rhythm never changes, but I bet that if you think about your own game, your swing with a driver is faster than your swing with a wedge. You equate distance with swinging harder. Don't. As long as you get the fundamentals right, you will find that you create a momentum that returns the clubface squarely for optimum speed and power.



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