As golfers we can try a million different techniques or sensations when playing golf. One sensation might work for one swing. Another swing, though, might work for five or six holes. So which sensations are correct, and which sensations are not?
As an instructor, I am trying to get people to be consistently better. My correction cannot be telling a student a sensation they should have. I prefer to help students set intentions, and guide them beyond that point. Whatever technique or sensation helps them accomplish this intention is the correct one; the sensation is not for me to decide.
Many students will tell me if they just stay down, or keep their arms straight, they could play better. I would not disagree with this if it helps the intention. However, I like to think of it this way, if you would hit it solid, better golf will happen. The intentions I set are usually end-result of good swings, such as, where the club contacts the ground, or where the ball contacts the club face. These two intentions deal with contact, which is the most important part to playing better golf. Even in putting, making solid contact is the most important factor. I do set intentions that deal with club face as well, but let us focus on intentions that deal with contact.
If a golfer makes relatively solid contact they will be happy with the round. If I hit the ball solid, and squander a few shots away, I am still relatively happy. There are important factors beyond solid contact. However, most golfers do not consistently make solid contact, so why clutter the mind with all these other thoughts? If the thought or sensation does not help a golfer accomplish the intention on a consistent basis they should not bother trying to create the same sensation during any swing.
If golfers make contact with the ground behind the ball on a consistent basis, the intention should be to contact the ground underneath the golf ball. If a golfer has trouble with this intention, then the golfer should trythe very opposite of the problem. Trying the opposite might fix the problem, and will certainly help the golfer develop skills that will help in the future. An example of this is a golfer hitting 3-4 inches behind the ball with an iron shot. Try to hit 3-4 inches in front of the ball. My money is on them making contact with the ground at the correct spot when trying the other end of the spectrum. The key factor to the process is if the golfer tries to contact the ground 3-4 in front of the ball, it helps to contact the ground correctly. What does the golfer feel, or what sensation do they have? Whatever the sensation is, keep doing it, because it helps. I promise the sensation will be different for everyone. This is why I do not tell someone what swing thoughts they need to have when I start my lessons.
Same thoughts work if someone is contacting the ball on the toe or heel of the club. If contact is on the heel, try to hit it on the toe. See what happens. Does it help contact? What does the golfer feel when trying the opposite of the problem?
When the correct intention is set, a player’s athletic instinct will make the body function correctly. If a player has a sensation when they accomplish the intention, that is when self-discovery happens. As a teacher, I am only a guide. Hopefully, I guide my students with better intentions.
Big picture intentions are difficult for a player to set, because they only know what they feel. Go see a PGA professional to fix multiple problems with one simple intention.
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 Titleist staff member. Follow Todd on Twitter @elliottgolfpro or for any question or comments email firstname.lastname@example.org.