Three keys to solid strikes (I)
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
I had a marvellous weekend playing golf near Pohang city in the latter part of last March. Despite fierce gales persistently blowing all day long, I really enjoyed myself on a fantastic golf course that commands a beautiful ocean view. The howling wind deprived me of the concentration and balance necessary to play my best, but nothing could discourage me and my determined team-mates. Here are three keys I gave them to fix their respective swing problems that might be inflicting damage on you, too.
For solid iron shots turn the knuckles of the left hand down at impact
A big-hearted Lee, once a single-digit handicap golfer, seemed to have lost all confidence in his ability to play as well as before. His problem was believed to have sprung from an ill-advised or ill-considered swing change ― from a flat swing to an upright one.
Given that he used to shoot low scores with a baseball swing, he is surely a player who has to set up in a bent posture and make a flat swing. Crucially, he has a body shape that calls for a flat baseball swing.
However, he was setting up in a bent posture and making a steep, upright swing, with the result being frequent fat shots. He did not know that a bent posture and an upright swing plane do not match. A bent posture calls for a flat, baseball swing, while an upright swing demands an erect posture.
If you are presently in deep water, it's essential to check if your setup posture matches your swing plane and vice versa.
That is, if you are standing over the ball in a bent posture, simply go for the flat, baseball swing, and all other good things will take care of themselves.
On average, if you are good at sports such as baseball, tennis or ice-hockey, you're better leaning forward toward the ball and making a flat swing. However, if you think that you need to lift the golf ball in the air to send it toward the target you'd better stand upright, swinging the club on a steep plane.
Similarly, if you have a big chest and upper body with relatively short arms, or have a thick body with somewhat limited flexibility, your key swing needs to be a flat one, which calls for a bent posture. On the other hand, if you have a thin chest with longish arms or have a lean body with much flexibility, you are better setting up in an erect posture, making an upright swing.
Once you've set up correctly so your posture matches your swing plane, or vice versa, think of just one thing: the knuckles of the left hand. If you can keep them down at impact, then so much the better. That way you can compress the ball harder, hitting down on the ball more solidly and accurately.
That is an excellent move if you tend to hit fat or thin shots like Lee, as it will save you from hitting those nasty shots once and for all.
Turning them down toward the ground at impact helps retain the wrist hinge longer on the way down, allowing your left wrist to stay flat or slightly bowed through the ball. That means keeping the club head lagging behind the hands until well after impact, also meaning no more flicking motion of the hands that leads to fat or thin shots.
In addition to helping generate maximum speed this also decreases loft of the clubface at impact, resulting in longer shots with more control.
Typically, too earlier a release of the wrist hinge in the downswing results from attempts to help the ball get up by making a flipping motion with the hands. You can keep away from the precipitate wrist unhinge by turning your knuckles of the left hand down.
To get a good feel for this, just imagine yourself dragging the knuckles of the left hand along the grass, or keep the back of your glove pointing down at impact.
At first, you may start to hit hooks when you do this as you will close the clubface far much more than you are used to. When that happens, simply swing the club head on an in-to-out path through impact and you will produce beautiful draws.
You can also avoid unhinging the wrists too early, or rather stop sending the club into the ground only to hit it fat, if you bear one thing in mind: swinging to a full finish. All you have to do is just focus on finishing the swing with your weight on the left foot and your body over the left leg.
If you trust that the club's loft will get the ball up and swing to a finish, you will be left with greater chances of hitting it pure as you won't unhinge your wrists through the ball. You will incur no more fat or thin shots and other poor strikes.
Better yet, keeping the knuckles of the left hand down at impact is good even for the driver. That prevents you from trying too much to hit the ball with an upward blow. It's true that you need to swing the club at a slightly ascending angle through impact when you hit the ball off the tee, but that should not be forced. You need to make that happen naturally and automatically by positioning the ball correctly.
So, just rotate your forearms counter-clockwise as you start down, turning the clubface of the driver toward the ground. That encourages you to make a natural swing, keeping you from hitting the driver low on the clubface or topping the ball. A major source of distance and accuracy, plus consistency, is solid contact with the ball in the centre of the clubface.
Contrary to popular belief, for more solid, powerful shots you need to stop trying to help the ball up, be it a shot off the tee with the driver or a shot from a tight lie with an iron.