Archive for the ‘Golf Swing Basics’ Category

Correct Backswing Leads to More Consistent Golf Swing!

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Today’s topic is about the backswing. A lot of people focus too much of their time on the downswing, transition, and whatnot. But if you don’t have a correct backswing, no matter what you do on your downswing and onward, you will probably still hook the ball or banana slice it. Even if you can manipulate your hands so well, that’s not going to last on the golf course and it’s likely to bite you in the future with errant shots.

So what?

Key to more consistent golf swing lies in your ability to set yourself up in the right position on your backswing.

If you can achieve correct backswing every time, you’ve solved nearly 90% of hitting the golf ball squarely on the clubface.

I know this can be a bit different (as your backswing might differ on how your grip your golf club) but let me give you some tips that can be applied to anyone’s golf swing.

First, stay in balance during your backswing. I see a ton of amateurs lose their balance on their backswing yet complain that they cannot hit the golf ball solid.

Second, you want to feel relaxed during your golf swing, having tension in your hands, arms, or shoulders can kill your chances at great golf shots.

Third, your backswing is a “body” turn”, if you are not using your whole body to turn, you are prone to make some manipulations on your downswing plus you are missing out on some extra yards you should be getting.

Well, working on your balance is crucial to more consistent shots. A great way to practice your balance is to swing to the top of your backswing and pause. If at this point you feel in complete balance, that’s great but if you are not, keep trying until you can get perfect balance. This might sometimes mean shortening your backswing a bit but if that’s what it takes, do it as I bet your golf shots will improve.

Also, pause at the top of your golf swing and see if you feel tension in any part of your body. Most of my problems come when tension creeps into my hands at the top of my backswing. What happens to me then is that the tension in my hands cause me to swing overly flat and by the time I get to impact, my clubface is too-closed and must resort to last-minute hand manipulations to hit the ball square.

A correct backswing feels like your whole body is turning together, practice controlling your backswing with the bigger muscles of your body. I like to visualize my belly controlling the speed of my backswing.

So, next time you are on the range or the golf course having trouble with your golf shots, do some practice backswings and pause at the top. You should feel very balanced, light, and together.

Once you can feel those things, you will feel more confident and hit more consistent golf shots. Let me know if this helps you!

Slow Down Your Downswing and Swinging with your Core!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

In last couple weeks, I’ve been working on two things that have helped me tremendously in getting my golf swing more consistent.

First of all, 99% of amateur golfers swing just way too quickly on the downswing.  When you swing so quickly on the way down, you have virtually no chance of squaring correctly other than slapping at the ball with your hands, which 99% of amateurs do anyways.

So, how to fix this problem?

Next time you are on the range, try “slowing down” your downswing.  I don’t be deccellerate.  To feel this, try downswinging at the same speed/pace at you swing back.  Once you get the hang of it, you should be hitting the golf ball more solidly and you should be able to feel it in your hands.

Even on drivers, you don’t need to swing hard or quickly to make the golf ball go far.  If you can square up your clubface to your golf ball exactly in the center of your golf club’s sweetspot, it will go farther and result in more consistent drives, leading to lower scores and longer drives.

Second, you need to feel a “core” in your golf swing.  A lot of old schoolers did this by keeping their head still but this probably isn’t the best advice.

Instead, what I like to do is feel the point between my breasts (yes, that point) and let my arms and hands rotate around that point.  You don’t actually rotate around that point but that is the feeling, that your whole golf swing revolves around a core point.

What this does is keeps your golf swing more in balance and fixes swing flaws like dipping or over-transferring weight.  Also it can fix over-swinging, which is primarily caused also by your body being out of balance.

Try these two tips whether you are a 90s shooter or single-digit handicapper the next time you go out on the range and I am sure you will hit more consistent shots.

And no, don’t try it on the golf course unless you are just out there to practice shots in-between when no one is around.  Tinkering with your golf swing in a round of golf will never do you any good.

How to Pronate!

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Pronating is a word I think invented by Ben Hogan.  It’s the act of keeping your left wrist flat or even at unnatural negative angle while swinging through the ball.

I’ve tried countless times to add pronation to my golf swing in my 20+ years of golfing life but always gave up because I couldn’t really do it.

Well today while practicing, I “naturally” achieved it while trying to hit my short irons dead straight at the target.

Instead of “pronating” what I did is to feel like the hands and the clubhead become near vertical at impact while the clubhead lags behind the hands.  Incredibly, when I did this, my short iron shots started going dead straight.

I slowed down that action and right before impact, I could see my left hand was “pronated”.   I started using this type of action on all my shots and guess what, I am hitting the ball straighter than ever.

I guess it took me 20 years to realize what pronation is but it’s not the result I think, it’s how you get there.  For me, that meant feeling like my hands and clubhead were near vertical at impact.   This seems like an action that will break your left wrist more than anything but go try it next time you are on the range, your shots will start shooting out like bullets!

Anyways, just wanted to share with you what I’ve learned today at practice, I finally figured out how to pronate and hit my short irons dead straight.

Really Hitting the Ball with Your Body!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Today marks my 60th day of golfing everyday.  Whether I hit 135 golf balls on the range or played 18th holes, I haven’t missed a single day of golf for the last two months.

Yes, if you want to improve as bad as I want to, you will have to play golf everyday.  That is surely one way to improve.

Of course, today I had one of those days when my ball was just hitting the sweetspot of my clubface every time.  In fact, I hit it so many times so pure that after hitting 20 balls, my clubface would leave an imprint of exactly where the ball hit.

What was different today than any other day was that I was beginning to become more “aware” of my body as a whole and simply began swinging with my “whole body”.

I know, I know, it’s so simple but next time you are on the range, see if you can feel yourself swinging with your “whole body”, even on your takeaway, backswing, downswing, and the finish.

When you can do that, you have taken a lot of club manipulations (by your hands) out of the equation.

But it does take you a long time before you “finally” get it, swinging with your “whole body”.  Even me, I didn’t hit many balls or practice often and took me 2 months to “get it back”.

Think of golf as an art.  Each stroke you make will make a difference but it will be many strokes before your art becomes masterful.    Don’t try to become so good overnight because you simply can’t.

Try to work on 2 or 3 things at a time and try different things until you find something that works for you.

Positions and swing plane is great to work on except if you ain’t flushing the golf ball on target and on the sweetspot, you might as well go fishing for a bit.

The point is, you need to make theory and your swing work together.  Golf is really hard because there’s no right answer nor right golf swing for everyone and everyone has a different swing.

You just need to find one that gives you consistent results and the one that lets you hit the golf ball on the sweetspot of your golf club.

Other than that, you just need to have a good grip and swing on-plane.

Anyways, keep practicin’ and make sure you take your time and think, visualize the results you want.  Also analyze what you did wrong after a round and work on your weaknesses.

That’s all I am doin’, just trying to get the little things worked out so I can hit the ball closer to the hole.

Good luck!

P.S. I had some personal emergencies today and couldn’t play golf but just practiced.  Well, I will try to get a round in tomorrow hopefully…

Alignment and Body Swing Ready at Address!

Monday, May 17th, 2010

So, I will be honest.

I played 3 rounds this year, first time playing golf in 2 years.  (I hit a lot of balls here and there but never played much, maybe 1 round a year)

The first time out, I played a pretty tough course (6900 yard from blues, 72.5 slope rating) in my flip flops!  Yes, I shot 85 in my flip flops but my foot hurt bad real bad.

Second time out the next week, I broke 80 by shooting a 79.   It was an easy course though but still, I am slowly coming back.

Last saturday I shot another 79, 1-over 37 on front and 6-over 42 on the back.  I hit like every fairway, hit the driver great but missed like 75% of my  approach shots from the fairway.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, I haven’t worn golf shoes on the course yet, I wore my “slippery-on-the-grass” skateboard sneakers the last two times I shot 79s.  So next time I want to see what I shoot with golf shoes on.  (I did this on purpose to improve my balance and indeed, my balance has been improving well, I will have a blog post about that too.)

Worst of all, my short game was good on the front nine (where I had kick-in givemes) but on the back nine, I left myself like 5-footers all the time and I missed like ALL of them.

Anyways, I have yet to break par this year but I am pretty satisfied with where my game is going.  It shouldn’t be too long though so long as I keep playing.

One of the players that I played with the other day, on the 18th hole, hit it dead straight but his aim was toward the trees on the right.  Of course, he hit the trees.

I told him he hit the ball super straight but he was aimed like 40-yards right of the fairway.

A lot of times in golf, alignment and aim is everything.

If you are even aligned 10-yards slightly left or right, that can make  your natural instincts take over and try to manipulate the club so your golf ball goes toward the target.

Now, if this manipulations works well, you are fine but a lot of times, you will get bunch of duck hooks or banana slices in these situations. (Or, you hit it dead straight towards where you are aimed.)

If you want to be a great player, you might want to think about putting a club down between your ball and stance “parallel” to your target when you practice.

I know, it’s cumbersome but this simple act of alignment and aim can make you hit 14 out of 14 fairways or 0 out of 14 fairways.

The other day I hit 13 out of 14 fairways, that’s after I fixed my alignment and aim.

If you ever get a chance to watch the PGA tour guys practice on the tee, you will notice that a lot of them will put a club down during practice.   It’s not really a secret but yes, it’s like cheating in golf.    You should always put a club down parallel to your golf ball if you have never done it before.  I bet you, you are either aiming way left or right of your target.

Alignment is like 90% of making the golf ball where you want it to go.

On another note, during today’s practice, I realized another cool image (swing thought) that helped me make a more consistent swing.

That is to really “feel” your whole body being “together” at address before you start that swing.   What this does is gets you ready for the actual swing and by the time you start swinging, you move everything together, your hands, arms, shoulders, and belly in sync.

Anyways, my next goal is to break 75 next weekend.   Don’t shoot me for  that.  Even for me, after a 2 year layoff from golf play, it takes me about 5-6 rounds before I can break par again.

But I am getting there, I feel like I want to really push myself hard so I can make the PGA Tour next couple years.  First I will have to shoot up some lower numbers though like 65, 66, and whatnot.

Wish me luck!  And oh yeah, you can always find me practicing at Cypress Golf course in Colma or San Bruno range if you are in the bay area.

P.S. One more tip, how to really force yourself to hit great driver shots, use a hundred dollar bill as a tee.

Tips for Improving the Follow Through of Your Golf Swing!

Friday, May 14th, 2010

(This was my follow through couple years back, one of the best ways to improve your follow through is to imagine the swing plane (as I have drawn the yellow line, and try swinging your body in sync with it.)

Today, I was at the range and had one of those “ah ha” moments.  Because I haven’t really played much golf up until recently around end of last year, I had failed to follow through correctly.

But, today I figured it out and got my swing back.

Here’s what I realized and some tips for improving your golf swing’s follow through.

Like I was telling you the other day you want to use images as swing thoughts, I want you to do the same except “vision” your hands, arms, and body following through toward your target.

When you do this correctly, your body should automatically turn to your left side and come up.  If your body doesn’t come up, that means you are probably not following through correctly.

After the follow through, you should arrive at a nice finish with most of your weight on the left foot for a full swing.

Also, one more thing, you want to feel “free” while doing this.  When you really free yourself of any tension during the follow-through, you will feel like you are actually swinging in an imaginary track formed by your swing plane.  This is because you are swinging correctly, with your body, and you are feeling the centripetal force pushing your arms, hands, and the golf club outwards towards the target.

If you can achieve this feeling, you will inevitably hit the ball more solid and consistently as I did today.

Well, that’s all for today folks, have a great weekend and I will tell you all about my round tomorrow.

P.S. Oh yeah, my chipping is awesome now, I kept it simple now getting everything within a foot!  If you haven’t practiced your short game (even though I haven’t wrote much on it lately), YOU SHOULD!!!

All Body Swing!

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Yup, today’s golf swing practice went pretty darn well.

One of the things I was doing wrong was aiming.  I was aiming way too far left and I kept hitting a 20-yard banana fade (or slice) OR a 30-50 yard duck hook.

After I found out my aiming was off by at least 30 yards left of my target, I used a club to align myself.

Voila, it’s one of those moments when you need to get back to basics of golf, I started hitting my golf ball right on target.  Even when I missed, my misses would stay within 10 yard radius to left or right.

Great result right?

Yup, it happens to even the best of the pros, aiming.   I was about to quit golf then I found out it was my aim.

Also, after correcting my aim, I kept still duck-hooking all my longer clubs like the driver.

At first, I started swinging easier, making sure to use my body to make the golf swing.

Then, I started hitting the ball like 320 yards easy with my driver and darn straight.   One more note, I was delaying my impact with my arms and hands then I tried delaying the whole lag process with my whole body.

Voila, I start hitting these 320 yard drives right down the pipe at my target.

After that, I re-gained confidence in my ability to shoot some low scores under par.   I will play this Saturday and see if these things prove to work on the course so until then, make sure you are aiming “parallel” to your target, and don’t forget to swing with your whole body!

How to Make a Consistent Golf Swing with an Image Thoughts!

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

One of the ways you can make your golf swing consistent is to have a consistent backswing where you are swinging to the same point every time.

Over the years, I have found that image swing thoughts work the best to achieve the desired consistency above all other as your brain somehow manages to get your muscles right when you think of an “image”.

So what is this image?

Well, I will let you on a little secret.  For me, I imagine my hands about level with my eyes above my shoulders.   When I imagine my hands being in that certain position, I inevitably swing back correctly with my body.  From there, it’s piece of cake, just rip through the ball and same results every time.

Imagery is probably the most under-rated forms of swing thoughts, stuff that can actually hold up under pressure.

Instead of thinking, “keep my head down”, see an image of your head being in the position where you want while you swing.

Instead of thinking, “follow through”, see an image of yourself following through the golf ball while you swing through the ball.

You see, swing thoughts are only good if you can make an image of it.  I assure you, this results in more consistency in you golf swing.

P.S. My golf swing is coming back a bit, today I hit the golf ball really far, I will be playing for Pepsi Tour mini tournaments probably starting in July, wish me luck!

How Much Divot Should You Take? [Advanced Golf]

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

This whole month I am guilty of practicing only on mats at the range.  Usually that’s no biggie but sometimes it can make you think you are hitting the ball awfully well but you might actually “not” be.

I did hit up the grass tees couple times lately at the range and notice something funny, I was taking rather large divots.  Although I hit the ball good, making big and thick divots can make you hit “fliers”, ball with too much overspin and goes farther than you expected.

So, the question is, how much divot should you take?

It’s always good to take the less divot as possible, especially if you hit the ball long like me.  For most long hitters, hitting a flier can become a big problem as your error (of hitting fliers/too much divot) literally multiplies.

Also, divots should be as shallow as possible.  Plus, by taking shallow divots, you are putting less strain on your hands, which also allows you to achieve higher swing speeds.

Bryon Nelson used to take huge divots that looked literally like a dollar bill.  Of course, his divots were also “thin” as dollar bill.

My point here is that you want to make the shallowest, smallest divot possible because when you do that, it means you are getting more of the clubface onto the ball.

For long irons and woods off the fairway, you probably don’t even need any divot because your swing arc becomes shallow.

For middle to short irons off the fairway, a nice shallow divot starting “after” the ball is struck, would be ideal.

What to do if you keep hitting big divots that are thickalicious?

Most likely if you are making big-a** divots, there can be several reasons.

First, your golf clubs might be not probably fitted.  If your taller or shorter than average AND you use standard-size golf clubs, you are probably gonna dig that toe or heel end of the clubhead into the ground at impact, throwing off your shot and also cause bigger divots.   This is number one mistake I see among amateurs, they buy $2000 golf clubs and forget to custom-fit it to their body by getting longer shafts or cutting them to fit.  Also, there’s the loft and lie angles of the clubhead you NEED to adjust.   These things can all be done correctly if you ask your golf shop before ordering them.  Don’t get lazy.

If you don’t custom-fit your clubs, that’s like buying medium size T-shirts and giving it to your super tall/skinny daughter and super short/fat son who needs to wear 2XXL.

Second, if you are making big divots, examine what they look like.   For example, today I noticed that my divots were actually “aligned” about 15 yards left of my target, meaning my clubhead was closed at impact.   The real cause of this closed clubface was because I didn’t rotate my clubhead and body enough to the right on my backswing.

I fixed it by making sure to “turn and rotate” my clubhead and body starting from address.   Voila, I started making very, very thin and shallow divots again, the ones I am used to when I shoot under par.

Playing in the Wind Tip – Hit It Slightly Thin Intentionally

Also, one more tip, when you are playing in the wind, actually try hitting the ball a bit thin.  What this does is keeps your ball flight down and puts less backspin on your ball, which makes your shot less vulnerable to the wind.

You can practice these slightly “thin” shots by really keeping your upper body “UP” throughout the swing.  Plus, these can come in reaaaaal handy out of those fairway bunkers, allowing you to easily hit the green when you have a decent lie.

Well, I just told you what kind of divots you should be making out there (and some wind-play secrets), don’t forget to subscribe!

P.S. I am actually in the process of writing my new golf book, “How to Lower Your Golf Scores”, if you want a free review copy, let me know at the comments line!

How to Hit Downhill/Uphill/Sidehill Shots!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

A lot of you may play great golf on flat courses where there are no hills but suffer bad scores on courses that have lots of hills.   I personally grew up playing very, very hilly golf courses and practically 90% of all my shots were either downhill, uphill, or sidehill.

If you don’t know how to hit these shots, you might want to keep reading as I can show you that they are not that hard, you just need to understand the fundamentals behind it.

How to Hit Downhill Shots!

Downhill shots are probably the hardest of them all to hit because most of the time, the downhill slope de-lofts your clubface.  For example, on a downhill shot, your pitching wedge will be more like a 9-iron or even 8-iron, depending on the angle of the slope.

Here’s THREE simple rules to remember about downhill shots:

One, setup with your ball further towards your right foot.  Because of the downhill slope, your clubface will contact the ground much sooner, meaning you need to place your golf ball where you will hit it, further towards your right foot.

Two, obviously you will need to lean a bit more toward the hillside, the right, otherwise you will lose your balance.

Three, because your ball is now further towards your right foot, you need to aim left as your clubface will be slightly open at impact.   Most of the time, I hit a 5-10 yard fade on downhill shots, just a rule of thumb I follow so I aim about 5-10 yards left target.

There’s more things you can do to enhance your downhill shotmaking skills but I am only going to make you learn the first three I mentioned here because these are perhaps the most important.  One more thing, try to keep your best balance here and swing smooth and easy.  This isn’t the best time to swing all-out.

For golf strategy, when you are on a downhill, your percentages are against you so play the safer shot instead of going for the green.

How to hit Uphill Shots!

Uphill shots are probably the easiest of them all because you are hitting into the slope and usually you can get by hitting it pretty hard.

Uphill shots are just the exact opposite of downhill shots, here’s THREE simple rules to remember about uphill shots:

One, setup with your ball further towards the left foot.  Again, the sloper will dictate that the best chance of hitting the ball is further towards the left foot.

Two, again lean a bit more towards the hillside, the left to keep balance.

Three, most likely you will hit a nice little draw because your golf ball is placed further left, aim 5-10 yards right of your target as a general rule of thumb.

For golf strategy, uphill shots are the ones to go for.  If you are in a grey area where you could make a potential eagle/birdie by going for the green, by all means, this is the time to go for it, just aim right enough and make sure to follow through all the way to your target on the finish.

How to hit Sidehill Shots!

Sidehill shots are also one of the hardest to master, especially the ones where your body is sitting higher than your golfball.

For sidehill shots when your body is sitting higher than your golf ball, try to stand a bit closer to your golfball and also as tall as possible.  From there, make a very smooth and easy swing.   Remember, this is one of the most delicate shots (because of the angle) so take it easy!

Also, don’t forget to aim about 5-10 yards left (depending on the side slope) as your ball will be not fading but actually going at a different angle!

When your body is sitting lower than your golf ball, grip down about 1-2 inches on your golf club and make the same golf swing.  No need for any changes other than that and also your golf ball will travel slightly from right to left so aim 5-10 yards right.  This is much easier shot in my mind (because of the angles) so play more aggressive when you have lies where your golf ball is higher than your body.

For shots that are mix of an uphill and sidehill, you will have to take everything into consideration.

For example, if you have a downhill shot on a right-to-left slope (where your ball is higher than your body), you might want to put the ball slightly right toward the right foot, grip down about an inch on the club, and aim slightly right of the hole.  Of course, the aiming part might be completely different depending on how much downhill/sidehill slope you are facing.

The important part is that you actually practice these uphill/downhill/sidehill shots with every club in your bag so you have your own “feel” of how the distance/aiming vary.

Trust me, these are one of the hardest shots to master but they could potentially be your best weapon when you are playing a hilly golf course.

You won’t be able to practice most of these shots on a practice range so I suggest you to practice them on the golf course.  When it’s not too busy on the golf course, just make sure to hit 3-4 shots whenever you encounter these hilly shots.

Most importantly, know that you need to make these small adjustments on these shots, even on a slight slope.   When you don’t, that might be the reason why you “duff” or “skull” the golf ball because you don’t play the slope, the slope plays you.

Practice, practice, and practice.