Golf is a crazy game, isn't it? If you've been playing the game for any length of time, I need a golf tip to convince you of that. You know exactly what I mean. You can play well today and then play poorly tomorrow. And there's no apparent explanation for the change. All this confusion begs the question: Is there a mental key to golf that lowers your golf handicap?
I doubt it. At least, I haven't found it. But the idea of finding a mental key to golf is intriguing indeed. It's so intriguing it once led PGA pro Al Geiberger to create what could certainly qualify as the mental key to golf. Al called it the 90 Percent Rule. It goes like this: Whatever your instinct tells you to do, do the opposite-and you will be right about 90 percent of the time.
Al's rule is a bit of exaggeration, but it contains a degree of truth. Think about it. Many of the things we do in golf are what your instincts say you shouldn't do. That's what a lot of golf instruction sessions are all about-telling people to ignore their instincts. In fact, much of the time I'm giving golf lessons I'm teaching people how to ignore their instincts and do what's right. Let's look at what I mean:
Swing Down, Not Up
New golfers who attend my golf instructions sessions often try to scoop the ball in the air with their irons. Getting an iron shot airborne by swinging up doesn't work. By trying to lift the ball in the air you reach the bottom of your swing arc well before you reach the ball, resulting in fat and thin shots. Scooping also short-circuits power. Trying to lift the ball in the air pushes your weight on your right side (for a right-hander) and throws you off-balance at the finish, reducing power.
If you want to get the ball airborne with your irons, you need to swing down, not up. Swinging down means you'll reach the ball at impact just at the bottom of your arc, exactly where you want to be at this point in your swing. Swinging down eliminates topped and fat shots. What's more, it keeps your weight off your right side and you finish in balance, adding power to your shot.
Open Blade, Close Blade
Many new golfers slice. Seeing their ball tail off to the right, if they're right handed, their first instinct is to close the blade at address, with the club aiming left of the target. On the backswing they keep the blade closed thinking that that will keep the ball from curving right. Unfortunately, that's not a cure for a slice. Invariably, these golfers rotate the club from closed to open during impact and follow-through. Opening the blade causes them to slice even more.
The cure is to square the clubface to the target at address. Then on the backswing allow the clubface to swing open, similar to a door opening on its hinges. By opening the clubface, your natural reaction will be to rotate back to square at impact, and then let it close on follow -through. Letting the clubface open then close also causes your body to rotate, generating a fuller body turn. Making a fuller body turn causes you to return to the ball with the clubface square at impact and generates more power.
Square Aim Cure Pulls
If new golfer isn't slicing the ball, he or she is probably pulling it. To cure this swing fault, many new golfers will instinctively compensate by aiming right of the target at address. This set-up causes them to turn their shoulders excessively on the forward swing, producing a severe outside-to-in swing path-the opposite of what they intend. The end result is a worse pull than before.
A good golf instruction session would teach you to forget about instinct. Instead of setting up to the right, set-up with your feet and shoulders square but parallel to the target line. This set-up lessens the tendency to get overactive with your shoulders on the downswing and the severity of your swing path. You'll swing your arms, hands, and club into the ball on the correct inside path, producing straighter, longer shots.
These three examples are just a sampling of the many instances in golf in which you need to do the opposite of what your instincts tell you. They are also evidence that there's more than just a little truth behind Al Geiberger's 90 percent rule. If there is a mental key to golf, then, and after giving thousands of golf lessons I'm not sure there is, Al's rule could be a strong contender for the title.
So what can we take away from these examples? Next time you're playing and you're struggling with your swing, here's a quick golf tip: Do the opposite of what your instincts tell you. You'll probably be right.
Copyright (c) 2007 Jack Moorehouse