When I am on the lesson tee with students we converse about their latest round, what their swing thoughts are at the moment, bad shots, good shots, etc. One thing that sticks out to me in these conversations is the amount of bad information that is communicated between playing companions, whether it is husband/wife, friends, opponents, or someone they just met. Many common sayings by amateur golfers need to be put to bed. The fact of the matter is people give free advice, and usually the person who listens gets what they paid for.
Many of you have gone to an instructor and not gotten better. The next natural step is to turn to your friends, family, and anyone who can help play this very difficult game. You are looking for that one thought or tip that may be helpful, but these tips can have a negative effect on your golf game for the future. This visual problem can be the reason you are not playing well, but other things in your swing are the actual causes of the visual problem. There are many other avenues golfers are getting their information from. This is easy to find information, golf equipment commercials, Golf Digest, etc. Listed below are phrases I hear regularly that I don’t agree with.
- Keep your head down / keep your eye on the ball / Stay down
Yes… your head did come up, but it is because you are not moving correctly. Staying down and becoming immobile will not help the matter. Learn how to move efficiently, not how to stay still. Does your head stay relatively steady through impact…yes. If the head moves upward before impact it has nothing to do with the head inadvertently jerking towards the sky. No one intentionally raises their head while swinging, it would hurt, so do not try to fix something that is not the root of the problem. If a golfer tries to keep their head down it stays stationary well past impact. This puts your spine and body in a terrible position, not to mention loss of speed, loss of accuracy, and possible cause of back injuries.
- You’re swinging fast today / Slow down.
Slow down what? Something has to hit the ball with speed if you want to be successful. When a golfer feels fast, or looks fast, their sequence is not in the correct order on the downswing. The body could be faster than the arms and club head. I call this dragging the handle. Also, it may be that the body does not
move and the arms and hands are the only thing that swings the club through impact. The word “slow” is not a good word when playing golf. Think about making the sequence better on the downswing, not slowing down.
- Keep your lead arm straight on the backswing (left arm for right handed golfer)
In my experience the lead arm stays straight if the golfer has the physical capabilities of achieving an “arms extended” position. The arm folds on the backswing because of physical limitation, and trying to keep it straight is not good for the body or the golf swing.
Here are a few that I will not get into:
- Hit down on the ball
- The clubface is open at impact because you hit a slice
- Swing out towards the target after impact
- I have too much right hand in my swing
- A longer length driver will make you hit it further
- I am not good enough to play Titleist Pro V1s.
- I am not good enough to get fit for golf clubs.
- The putter head needs to swing straight back and straight through
Most of the above listed is information from bad resources, from people who do not study cause and effect in the golf swing, 30 second ads telling you lies so you will buy their product, PGA tour professionals giving swing tips, and Golf Channel announcers who have never taught golf a day in their life, but suddenly know what is wrong with Tiger Woods swing.
Also beware of golf tips. I write these golf articles to be golf education pieces; I prefer not to write “Swing Tip” articles. Swing tips are general statements, i.e. how to fix a slice. Everyone swings differently and needs corrections that fit their game. There is never one way to do things in golf instruction.
I encourage you to go see your local PGA Professional, but make sure they have a passion for teaching and learning about the golf swing. If you’re playing partner wants to offer a tip during a round you might want to ask what research he has done to substantiate the free tip, and what future impacts this could have.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is also a Coutour-certified putting fitter, a Titlteist-certified fitter and a Titliest staff member. Follow Todd on Twitter @elliottgolfpro or for any question or comments email email@example.com.