Here are 4 Tips for the Occasional Golfer
Our modern lives often get in the way of things we love to do - like playing golf.
For some golfers, playing every weekend simply is not an option. That can really impact their game and ability to improve consistently. When they do play, it’s like they are having to relearn everything all over again, especially when it comes to their swing. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Here are some tips that, even with just a few minutes of practice, can help you loosen up, and keep your tempo on target and your swing in the groove.
Don’t neglect the warm-up
No matter what sport you are playing, a warm-up is necessary - yes, even for golf.
There are so many mechanics that form part of a golf swing, that if you haven’t played for a while, you can injure yourself if you don’t warm up properly. We aren’t talking about anything too hectic either. Just make sure you stretch, especially the muscles in your back. A few simple ideas would include doing a few light swings up off the ground (like a baseball swing), holding the club above your head, straightening your arms, and rocking back and forth from left to right, loosening up the hips and back. Lastly, spread your legs beyond shoulder width, then lean and try to touch your toes on the left side, then the right. Following that, try to hit a few balls and get your swing into a groove while focusing on our next few points.
A successful golf swing starts with the correct grip. Always look to get that set up properly on each swing. Even as a beginner, or someone who doesn’t play often, you should know how to grip the club correctly. The basics (in case it's been a while) are: 1. your front hand should take the stronger grip position (ie. the crack between your thumbs and first fingers on both hands should be pointing towards your back shoulder). If your bottom hand takes the stronger position, you will tend to leave the club face open, and slice. 2. most people prefer an interlocking grip whe
re the first finger on the top hand and the pinkie finger on the bottom hand interlock. Another option that more and more people are experimenting with is the 10 finger grip, where there is no interlocking of the fingers - just gripping the club with hands together. Bonus Tip: Gripping the club too tight can take off distance and just overall makes everything more tense, therefore actually fighting against the ideal free-flowing, smooth swing we all want. The best description of how you should grip the club is, to pretend like you're holding a bird in your hands - you don't want to grip it so tight that you kill it, but you also don't want to let it fly away.
Now it’s time to focus on your posture as you address the ball. One of the most critical factors here is your balance. If that’s not right, your swing will be off as well. The idea is to ensure that your weight is equally balanced as you set up. Additionally, some key things to remember include making sure your arms hang down as naturally as possible, and then approach the ball (in other words, arms should not be extended straight out) (unless you're trying the single plane swing method - google it if you'd like to). Secondly, unless you're advanced enough to change your stance in order to hit a draw or a fade, you should pretty much just stick to having your feet aligned at your target (use alignment sticks or just another iron pointed at the target to dial this in at the range). Keep your head still, not moving it up or down during your swing. And for a few practice swings before your round, keep a tee in your mouth and make sure it points down at the ball throughout your entire swing.
If you only get to play golf once a month, for example, it’s going to be difficult to get your swing in the groove from the get-go. That’s part of the reason why you should have a few practice swings on the range before stepping up to the tee box. Try to arrive a half an hour or so before your scheduled tee time, and buy a small bucket of balls for the driving range.
re several things to focus on during your swing, starting with the backswing. The backswing should be slower (than the downswing) and at the top, you should pause briefly. The lower body should stay as quiet as possible during the back swing (ie. no swaying, rocking, dipping, etc to try to help the club). Let the Clubs do the Work!! This allows a smooth transition as you start the downswing. Remember to ensure that you are striking the ball properly by releasing your wrists just before impact. Hank Haney, Tiger Wood's former swing coach, teaches students to make sure that the back of their lead (glove) hand, should be facing your target just before impact (this is called closing the clubface). Take some time to focus on this concept with some easy swings while on the range! Weight distribution is another key factor to consider. Just before you begin your downswing, you should feel your weight shift from your back foot to your front foot, as you turn your bellybutton to the target. The hands and club will naturally follow. There is plenty more advanced stuff with the swing, but that's enough for now.
Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions!