by Alessandro de Luca
1. An Exaggerated Twist
Most amateur golfers erroneously believe that the more they turn their back swing, the more they will be able to gain distance.
Actually, to gain distance you need to find the perfect posture that allows you to perform a fluid swing in order to ensure solid contact with the ball. On the contrary, by exaggerating the twist in the backswing, you will go out of the “ideal” swing plane, hence, you will need quite some compensation to strike the ball correctly, see picture 1 below:
Tip: try to identify the critical phase when you make the transition from back swing to downswing: in fact this is the point where you need to be most in control !
Our Book suggestion: the basic, fundamental book on how to improve your swing is this one: “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf” by Ben Hogan.
For those of you who want to improve their swing without perfect-picture form, see: The negotiable swing.
2. Missing the Putting Line
The secret of good putting is to make sure that your mind can accurately visualize the line between the hole and the ball.
However, the most common mistake in doing this, is to start analyzing the ‘potential’ trajectory starting from the hole backwards to the ball stance: wrong…!
You have to do exactly the opposite, i.e. mentally visualize the ideal route of the ball from its position towards the hole (as, in the end, this is going to be the actual route of the ball….).
Tip: when putting, always accelerate at the moment you impact the ball. This will guarantee straight shots.
See also: putting grips to check which putting grip works best for you.
Our Book suggestion: like we already mentioned, the secret of good putting lies in the power of the mind. By reading this book, you will understand the rationale behind solid sustainable putting scoring: “Putting Out Of Your Mind” by Bob Rotella.
3. Swing Misconceptions
Many an amateur spends a lot of time and money (in golf lessons and sophisticated equipment) trying to improve their swing with the conviction that the backswing is not straight, the swing plane is not consistent, the finish is not high enough. All good reasons, for sure.
However, nearly 100% of the swing could be corrected just by improving only the first 3 steps of the swing sequence:
o Step 1 – the grip: the right positioning of the left and of right palms (see picture for reference) is fundamental for a correct swing. Ensure that your grip is smooth but solid (nor too tight, nor too “fluffy”). Let me tell you that the importance of the grip in the overall swing movement cannot be over-emphasized.
o Step 2 – the clubface is right on the ball: start positioning yourself based on the distance given by the right alignment of the clubface to the ball towards the objective.
Don’t do the opposite (deciding where to locate your feet and after aligning the iron………).
o Step 3 – get the right posture (stance): nor too curved, nor too straight. The trick is to use a back mirror to check your posture and compare it with an ideal one (any golf book has a picture of it !!!).
Tip: while you probably remember that you should avoid gripping the club too much in the palm with your bottom hand (the right hand il you play right-handed), most people fail to find the correct grip when it comes to the left hand (the top hand, for right-handed players).
Indeed, one of the most common errors among golfers is a weak top hand (the left hand, also called the lead hand) grip. Even though the left hand grip is slightly different from the right hand it shouldn’t be too much in the palm neither. Gripping the club too much in the palm reduces wrist action. This produces a shot that slices and lacks power. As your fingers are the most sensitive parts of your hands, placing the club more in the fingers rather than in the palm produces more feel and increases the amount of wrist hinge, which results in longer and more powerfull shots. Please check the picture below for reference and keep it in mind !!!
Our Book suggestion: If you have read the previous book of Ben Hogan on swing basics, you can move towards the second fundamental book: “Golf swing Basics” by Olivier Heuler.
4. Lack of acceleration
It is fundamental to accelerate the club through the ball. A lot of amateurs make the mistake of decelerating trough the swing eventually trying to scoop the ball. These errors cause the ball to land short of the target.
Instead, you need to learn how to accelerate through and under the ball.
Tip: the key for gaining distance when swinging is the finish, not the backswing. And you will only get a right finish, if you really accelerate your club at the moment of ball impact.
Our Book suggestion: If you have read the previous two books on swing basics, you can move towards the third fundamental book: “Tour Tempo: Golf’s Last Secret Finally Revelead” by John Novosel, John Garrity
5. Restless legs (in the short game)
Always remember this key lesson, the short-game swing is dominated only by the motion of the upper body. Your legs should act as ………if they were dead! On the contrary, you should get the proper stance and use the “power and control” of your hands (a little) and arms (a lot).
Tip: it is the length of your backswing, not the force of it, that helps you to gain distance to your shots.
Our Book suggestion: Short game is an art. You cannot learn the theory but you have to “feel” it. Hence, the suggestion we have is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE………….Nevertheless, to ensure you practice in the rigt way, have a look at this book: “Dave Pelz’s Short Game Bible” by Dave Pelz.