Tips from a golf pro for lowering your score.
Score over 100? Improve your Balance and Swing Tempo
Ingrid Gallow is one of Minnesota’s best golf pros. I worked with her years ago at Begin Oaks in Plymouth, MN. I’ve observed many of her lessons and she is a great teacher. Here is a great article that she wrote for my golfers. She can be reached through her website at www.ingridgallow.com or at 763-404-8288
What distinguishes an advanced golfer from a new one (besides score)? Good tempo, a smooth swing. It’s a pleasure to watch because everything looks synchronized and the club moves through the air without a hitch.
The average score in the United States is 100. For men, it’s 97, for women, 114. Many golfers who score in this range need help with their technique, and a common flaw is that they don’t swing in good balance.
Seldom do we have a flat piece of ground to hit from on the golf course. Even so, you can observe gofers on a driving range and few of them are addressing their golf balls in good balance at the start. They are either standing too close to the ball, or too far away. They are either on their heels or their toes. And that is before they even swing at the ball!
Good posture starts you in good balance.
Your posture at address should be an automatic slight bend from the hips so that you maintain a straight back with a relaxed arm hang and slight knew flex. Your width of your feet depends on the size of your swing. For small shots around the green, it’s narrow. For a full (iron) swing, your heels will be shoulder width, your weight distribution will be equal on both feet and you should feel stable over the arches of your feet.
For some reason, many golfers feel that they need to have an excessive knee bend. This moves your weight back to your heels. When you address the golf ball, you should be able to take a quick look at your feet and see all of your shoelaces. If you are bending your knees too much, they will l hide your shoelaces, as you look downward.
When you are in the correct position, your arms hang down freely from your shoulders, not touching your body. The end of your golf cub will be about four to six inches from your waist, or about a stretched hand away from your body. You should feel as though your hands are directly under your chin or nose.
Tempo- or Speed of the Swing Maintains good Balance.
It’s fair to say that no two golfers swing like one another, but choose someone to emulate who has good tempo.
To swing the golf club smoothly during the backswing, your hands, arms and s left shoulder should move back in one unit. Often, if the grip pressure is too weak, the golfer doesn’t develop a sensation of control of the club head. If it is too strong, the golfer usually picks the club up during the backswing and uses too much body in the downswing, causing the arc of the swing to cut across the ball.
You should hold the club so that it’s secure in your hands, just tightly enough so that no one could take the club away from you. Your shoulders should always be relaxed, at your address and throughout the golf swing. Tension in the upper body always kills good tempo.
As you move your arms and shoulders back in one unit, your target knee will move inward of the golf ball as your right hip turns. Your thumbs will point away from target and your wrists will begin to hinge around waist high. At the top of your backswing, your hands will be higher than your right shoulder, and for some golfers, their target (left) heel will be slightly off the ground.
How fast does this occur? Well, it takes about a count to two and you should be at the top of your full swing.
To start the downswing, most people make the mistake of starting with their upper bodies. You actually lead the downswing by planting your target heel down on the ground first. Your left knee or hip really initiates the downward move of your arms. All of that takes the count of one.
So it takes s two counts to go up and one to get back to impact. Ready, aim, fire! Or, one, two, three at impact!
Many golfers try to go up on the count of one and down on the count of two. This one-two rhythm only works for putts and chips. If you try that with a full swing, your downswing will look choppy, and typically, your club head will be coming down at too steep of an angle towards the ball, creating a swing path that goes from outside to inside. This results in a slice.
Consistency of Ball striking Improves with Better Balance
There are so many variables in golf- the uneven terrain, the weather, the social dynamics of the group you are playing with. The good golfer always is able to adjust to his/her environment because they are in tune with their balance. They are body aware and they are club head aware. This is particularly true for golfers who started the game as children.
You can acquire this awareness with proper instruction and simply, with regularity of practice. The more you handle a golf club, the more it feels natural in your hands. You need the instruction to understand how the face of the club operates during the swing. You need to learn how to shallow out your impact zone so you approach the ball in the downswing is roughly the same way every time. Understanding the simple mechanics of the swing allows you to focus on making the same body moves to operate the golf club throughout the swing. It tempers your urge to attack the ball from the top of the swing rather than just before impact.
A good drill to notice your balance is one in which you hold your finish for two seconds each time you hit a ball. This allows you to determine if your weight transferred to the target leg or if you fell backwards onto your right leg. If you cannot hold your finish, it’s time for your instructor to take a look at your swing.
Ingrid Gallo is a member of the LPGA. She is currently Director of instruction at Begin Oaks Golf Course in Plymouth. You can reach her at ingridgallo.com.