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The Five Conditions That Make Golf Difficult.

by Virgil Herring

1. The first condition that makes golf difficult is that it is the only target oriented sport played from a stance parallel to our target line. What that means is that to properly align yourself to the target you must have your shoulders, hips, knees, and feet parallel to your target at set-up. The most common error in this game is the player aiming their body at the target, and thus aiming the ball significantly right of the target. To create a great picture in your mind, first imagine a railroad tract from you to the hole. Then place the ball on the right tract and your parallel body on the left tract. This will have you aimed perfectly to your target. This is the alignment part of the set-up.

TEACHING CONCEPT:
THE MOST COMMON ERROR IN GOLF IS POOR AIM. BEFORE YOU BEGIN WORKING ON THE SWING ITSELF, MAKE SURE THAT THE LAUNCHING PAD IS SET-UP AND AIMED PROPERLY.

2. The second condition is that we are using both arms to project an object. This is not natural to our body. If we were strong enough to swing a club with one arm this game would be significantly easier. We must learn to train our arms and legs to work together, as a team, to efficiently strike a golf ball both with power and accuracy. The left arm is our guide arm. It guides the club back and guides the club through the ball. The right arm is the support/power arm. It supports the weight of the club at the top of the backswing and supplies the power at the bottom of the downswing. The right leg pivots to accept weight transfer in the backswing. Then the weight shifts laterally left to the left leg in the transition, followed by a counter-pivot into the left leg that accepts the powerful weight transfer in the downswing.

While learning to feel different parts of the golf swing we will use one-arm drills to help train our inner body to work correctly. The body tends to react more efficiently unilaterally than bilaterally.

TEACHING CONCEPT:
THIS IS THE MOST DIFFICULT CONDITION TO TEACH BECAUSE MOST OF THE RESULTS HAVE TO DO WITH THE COORDINATION AND ATHLETIC ABILITY OF THE STUDENT. FIND OUT WHICH ARM IS THEIR DOMINANT ARM FIRST. THEN HAVE THE STUDENT SWING THE CLUB WITH THAT ARM. THEN PLACE THE CLUB IN THE NON-DOMINANT ARM AND HAVE THEM SWING AGAIN. THEY WILL GET THE IMMEDIATE SENSATION OF WHAT NEEDS TO BE TRAINED. YOU WILL BE TEACHING THIS CONCEPT DURING THE SWING FUNDAMENTALS.

3. The third condition that makes the game difficult is the blending of the vertical and the horizontal motion of the golf swing. Let's take the body and take away the arms. You are now looking at horizontal movers of the golf swing. Take into consideration that the body is tilted at set-up, the body moves rotationally leveled throughout the golf swing.

The arms, conversely, are the vertical movers of the golf swing. The first vertical move is the right wrist hinging the club upward as the left arm reaches parallel to the ground. At this point the butt-end of the club should be pointed somewhere between the ball/target line and the body line. (step 2 position) The final vertical move in the backswing is the folding of right elbow, creating 90-degree angles in both the wrist and the elbow.

The downswing is the perfectly timed rotation of the body and the downward unhinging of the arms toward the target. The upswing is the mirror image of the backswing. The left wrist hinges upward followed by the elbow hinging to complete the swing. Due to the speed of the downswing, the left elbow may hinge more than 90 degrees at the completion of the swing.

TEACHING CONCEPT:
BY STANDING BEHIND THE STUDENT AND LOOKING DOWN THE TARGET LINE YOU CAN SEE VIOLATIONS OF THE VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL. HAVE THE STUDENT SWING INTO THE STEP 2 POSITION. IF THE BUTT-END OF THE SHAFT POINTS OUTSIDE THE BALL/TARGET LINE, YOUR STUDENT IS SUFFERING FROM A VERTICAL PART MOVING HORIZONTALLY. IF THE BUTT-END OF THE SHAFT POINTS INSIDE THE BODY THE STUDENT IS SUFFERING FROM A HORIZONTAL PART MOVING VERTICALLY.

4. The fourth condition that makes the game difficult is the static start. In most other sports we are reacting to a moving ball or object. In golf that is not the case. In golf we react to the backswing. Physics states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That is why the downswing is a high-speed version of the backswing.

TEACHING CONCEPT:
USUALLY IF THE STUDENT IS STRUGGLING WITH THIS CONDITION HE HAS AN EXTREMELY FAST START TO HIS BACKSWING, I.E. A JERK OR AN UNCOORDINATED THRUST OFF THE BALL. THE GOLF SWING ACTUALLY BEGINS WITH A GENTLE SHIFT OR MOVEMENT TOWARDS THE LEFT TO CREATE MOMENTUM IN THE BACKSWING. THIS MOVEMENT IS GENERALLY LESS THAN AN INCH.

5. The fifth and final condition that makes the game difficult is the innate hit impulse at the ball. Generally speaking, anything we swing a club to hit something sitting still usually ends at the object. (ex. Hammer hitting a nail) One of the most common errors in golf is the poor finish, usually a culprit of the hit at the ball.

TEACHING CONCEPT:
IT WOULD BE WISE TO ALWAYS START A SERIES OF LESSONS WITH HAVING THE STUDENT UNDERSTAND THE PROPER START AND THE PROPER FINISH. THE TEACHER SHOULD STRESS IF YOU CAN START WELL AND FINISH WELL YOU CAN HIT SOME GOOD SHOTS DURING THIS LESSON.

  • For information on Virgil Herring's instructional video, click here.
  • If you have a question concerning an area of the golf swing or the short game, click here to email Higher Performance Golf Academy.

 

Virgil Herring is an instructor for the Golf Channel Academy.

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