“Swing your Swing, I know I did.”
That was the punchline of a Dick’s Sporting Goods golf commercial of recent vintage, with Arnold Palmer extolling the virtues of individuality and uniqueness in every golfer’s swing. Certainly, no one has done it quite like Palmer in the 60 years since he burst onto the golf scene.
Through a lot of hard and diligent work, invaluable lessons, wisdom, and advice from a professional teacher, and tremendous support and patience from The Wife, I think I’m finally closing in on my swing.
I don’t necessarily understand all the physics and kinetic principles at work in my golf swing. I can’t look at another player’s grip, stance, or swing, and impart to them what improvements would help their game. I’ll leave that to the professionals.
I won’t ever have my swing analyzed in a feature column in Golf Digest. And I can’t, and probably never will, bomb the ball off the back of the driving range.
But what I have found, finally, mercifully, is a predictable, repeating, fundamentally sound golf swing that I have confidence in and that produces (mostly) accurate results.
The first nine months of the last year, my pro helped me correct some fundamental physical flaws in my swing that prevented the consistency of results that I so craved. Looking back, we changed the engine, transmission, and suspension of my golf swing.
The last three months have been fine tuning. Over-correcting some small fault, then pulling back the reins of that over-correction. One or two aspirin tablets instead of major surgery. Adjust the tire air pressure, so to speak.
Standing an inch or half-of-an-inch further away from the ball. Taking my hands further inside across my right thigh. Set up a little more neutral and tilt away from the target a tad more on my take away. It’s these little things that are finally unlocking my (modest) fullest potential.
Every bit of what I learned helped. Every step in the journey served a purpose. And because this has been such an arduous process, I think I will be able to take some pride and satisfaction in the destination.
So, for posterity and future reference, here are the thoughts and little adjustments to check as I set up to hit the golf ball. If I do all of this right, there isn’t much to think about during the swing, except to mind my tempo.
My successful swing checkpoints:
- Use the same routine every shot, every time.
- Make sure I’m far enough away from the ball; hands should hang just outside my shoulders.
- Bend slightly at the waist, tilt slightly away from the target, but not too much.
- Open my shoulders just a tick, relax the tension from my arms
- Rotate my head towards the target.
- Turn my shoulders away from the target, keeping my hands inside my clubhead.
- Take my hands back across my right thigh.
- Keep my left foot on the ground.
- Tilt my upper body away from the target.
- Turn my hips in place; don’t slide the hips away from the target.
- Turn my right palm toward the sky to get the club in position.
- Fire thru the ball without releasing the club.
- Swing between 80-90%; Gritting my teeth & swinging as hard as I can messes up more than it helps.
I know, this is all terribly mechanical. Surely, I shouldn’t really worry about such a laundry list on each swing, right?
The short answer is…I don’t have to worry about all these items. So many of these principles and thoughts are now so ingrained in my swing that taken together, they have become my natural swing.
The list is just a reminder I hope can check from time to time to try to figure out quickly why something has gone awry. Which should come in handy throughout the rest of the winter, since we’re a couple of months of opening the golf season in earnest. Until then…