Despite the frigid climate in our area, we are in the middle of March, which for me means we are almost in to my unofficial “Ladies’ Golf Month”. The beginning of April signifies the start of my Ladies’ Clinics on Fridays, so it’s a perfect time to cover some myths that are hurting your game and a couple of things you must do to see a better golf game in 2014.
MYTH – KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!
No myth has stood the test of time better than this one – and even now it is still terrible advice. Most ladies hear this from their playing companions (usually their MALE playing companions) after they have hit a ball that doesn’t get in the air and rolls along the ground. The fact of the matter is that keeping your head down is almost never the issue in “topping” a golf ball, and it will rob your game of athleticism and speed. The main reason many players “top” the golf ball is that their upper body raises up out of their initial posture (called spine angle) as it comes through the shot. This can happen for many reasons, such as weak lower body muscles or simply as a reaction to what the golf club is doing. The end result is that it is almost never because of a singular move to look up at the target too early. So maintain your spine angle and let that head rotate up the target. Annika Sorenstam was one of the greatest female golfers ever, and she looked up to the target quite early through impact. If it worked for her it can surely work for you, so free up your swing and stop trying to bury you head and stare at the ground!
MUST – BE A SHORT GAME WIZARD
Many of the ladies I teach hit the ball surprisingly well for what their handicap levels are, so my questions immediately go to their short game. This is usually the problem area because it never gets practiced and yet it is the area that you will spend most of your time on when playing golf. Remember, you may not make that many full swings, but between shots inside 100 yards and putting you will take the majority of your strokes. So get better at these areas! A good idea is to first find a method of chipping and pitching that is simple, and remember to get the ball on the ground and running as much as you can for predictable results. Then get better out of the bunkers (eliminating 2 shots to get out) and at lag putting, which is an often used area in most high handicap player’s games. Most of them will not hit the green close to the hole, and will need to negotiate a long putt to have a par chance. Don’t turn these into wasted strokes by three-putting! A solid set of short game fundamentals is critical for getting better and shooting lower scores. It may not be as fun or exciting as practicing hitting drivers, but it has the potential to change your game.
MYTH – GET UNDER THE BALL
Much of my time as an instructor and coach is spent working on impact and what happens at that moment of truth. Unfortunately, many ladies have the wrong picture of how a ball is struck and how it gets airborne. The truth about impact is that there are two general things that need to happen for good contact: you must hit down slightly on the golf ball with the club head taking a divot in front of the ball, and the handle of the club must be leaning forward at impact. Take a moment to look at the best players in the world and you will see swings of all shapes and sizes, but at impact there is an incredible similarity that can’t be ignored. So stop trying to get under the ball and start learning to compress it! Begin this journey by starting out with small chips and pitches, making sure to hit down slightly and feel the hands and handle of the club forward of the ball at impact. The sensation will immediately be much different and the results will shock you, especially once you make bigger swings and apply it to other clubs.
MUST – SWING FASTER
In the interests of trying to hit the ball straight and keep it in play, quite a few ladies will slow their swings down as if to guide the ball down the fairway. Many will also slow down in response to bad golf shots, as if their swing was so fast that it surely was the main reason for the wayward ball flight. But I am here to tell you that you must swing faster! First, there is no such thing as guiding the ball down the fairway, and you will see the best players swing with beautiful balance at high speeds and launch the ball long and straight. As I tell my female students, freedom is important in order to hit the ball longer and still keep it in play. Once we have basic fundamentals down, I want them to be comfortable swinging faster and faster as long as they can make good contact and stay in balance One of the club fitting issues for female golfers is the fact that quite a few of them hit their long clubs almost the same distance; this comes from not generating enough speed to generate enough spin and carry the ball longer. So if you want to hit your clubs longer and see a bigger distance differential you must learn to let loose a bit and swing the club faster. Take out an old shaft, an alignment rod, or an Orange Whip Trainer (which I use regularly) and learn to move the implement as fast as you can; get comfortable being uncomfortable and you will soon see that you are strong enough and balanced enough to do it. The distance difference and freedom in your swing will be the enjoyable result.
Come on out and join me at Night Hawk Golf Center for my Ladies’ Golf Clinics beginning Friday, April 4 at 12:00 or 6:30. Space is limited and we will be covering many of the myths and musts in order to help you get a better golf game and have a lot more fun. See you there!