A better golf lesson

“I must be lifting my head. I’m doing something wrong. I can’t hit the ball!”.

These were the comments coming from Andrew. No doubt he was struggling a bit with his golf game, but he was about to get some Strachan coaching.

Me: You’re not lifting your head! This is a story you’re making up to justify the poor shot.

Andrew: But the ball is going along the ground, so I must be moving me head.

Me: Nope. That’s not it. Of that I’m sure.

Andrew: So what am I doing wrong here?

Me: What do you think you’re doing?

Andrew: I don’t know. I think I’m lifting my head but you’ve told me that’s not the issue. Is it something with my golf swing?

Me: C’mon. Why would the ball be going along the ground?

Andrew: {doubting himself} Because I’m hitting the top of the ball?

Me: And if you’re hitting the top of the ball and this causes it to run along the ground, how would you get it to go into the air?

Andrew: {still doubting himself} Hit the bottom of the ball?

Me: Why don’t you show me…

Andrew took another swipe at the ball, this time with the objective of making contact at the bottom of the ball. The shot was airborne and hit solidly.

Andrew: So these worm burners are caused by hitting the top of the ball?

Me: Correct. That’s it. If you’re topping the ball the solution is to make contact lower on the ball.

Andrew: So I shouldn’t focus on my head then?

Me: That’s one way, but I don’t think it’s the best. Here’s why. There’s no guarantee you’re actually lifting your head – it could be anything. But if you try and keep your head still you’re going to inhibit the swing so much that a decent shot is not possible. When we try and hit the ball while simultaneously manipulating the swing, things get awkward and clumsy. If we do this while working on something that’s actually not the cause, you’ll be in big trouble.

Andrew: Makes sense. I have been struggling with this shot for ages and I’ve tried all sorts of things to fix it – but nothing really has worked.

Me: I can see that. But when you focus on a simpler objective, like hitting the bottom of the ball, you’re able to swing freely and still make a correction. You’re not getting in the way. You’re not contrived. You’re not stiff. And best of all you’re able to keep learning.

Andrew: How can I learn if I’m not trying to fix my swing?

Me: Because you can get feedback from each shot. With better awareness of impact and ball flight you’ll start to make correlations between the flight and impact.

Andrew: If it goes along the ground I’ve topped it and if it goes high into the air I’ve made good contact?

Me: Yes. And everything in between. In fact, when you start playing more regularly and have better awareness, you’ll be able to explore all sorts of contact points and see the result they give. But in the meantime, to help get you through the round, place you focus on the bottom of the club striking the bottom of the ball.

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3 Comments

  • Tony Lucas

    Reply Reply March 12, 2015

    Isn’t it marvellous the more simple the strategy the better the result !!
    Cheers Lukey

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply March 15, 2015

    Yep, focus on what you want to do, not what you don’t want to do.

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