Three Keys to Swinging Undisturbed
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
Korea Times Golf Columnist
The first tee shot is critical. Driving the ball in the fairway boosts your confidence but hitting it out of play saps your morale. This knowledge drives every golfer at all levels to exert too much effort on the first tee. It also causes too much pressure, thwarting a smooth swing.
Here are three stress-busters that can help calm your jitters on the opening hole and hit the ball undisturbed with authority.
1. Choose the club you feel the most comfortable hitting
A huge drive doesn't count much. Pick a club you feel the most comfortable hitting. If you lack confidence in your driver, leave it in the bag. You will better off going with a 3-wood, a long iron or whatever club that gives you the best chance of hitting the fairway. Confidence rids you of your anxiety, enabling you to hit the ball better.
2. Stick to your plan
Zero in on a precise target and determine the shot shape you can create without an extra effort. Visualize the ball landing in the middle of the fairway and yourself executing it.
Seeing your opponent hitting a great tee shot can tempt you to try to outdrive him, but just avoid doing it. Now is not the time to change your swing. To hit your own perfect drive you need to stick to your own plan and make a smooth swing.
3. Finish your backswing
Anxiety hurries you, making it hard to complete your backswing. Once your swing is in motion, the only thought needs to finish your backswing. Failing to wind up fully causes you to swing down with your arms and hands only with a jerking motion.
Rushing the clubhead from the top with a jerk is a critical fault that ruins a good swing. That causes poor contact and a loss of power and distance.
Not only to avoid rushing the clubhead from the top of the backswing, but also to develop a good tempo, imagine yourself fixing an end of an elastic cord on your belt buckle and setting up normally with some amount of slack between your belt buckle and the butt end of the handle.
During the takeaway pull the slack so a tight tension is created and focus on maintaining that tension as long as you can on the downswing. That way you can develop a good tempo and avoid hurried downswing.
Another good way to develop a good tempo and hit the ball better without anxiety on the first tee is to focus on getting your thumbs up just like a hitchhiker halfway both going back and coming through.
At the halfway point of the backswing when your left arm is horizontal to the ground you need to be sure that your thumbs are pointing to the sky. The tips of your thumbs need to be again looking at the sky at the halfway stage of the follow-through when your right arm is parallel to the ground.
Getting your thumbs up halfway going back and coming down will also help you stop trying to keep the clubface square or a tad closed through the ball as it prevents slice.
Slice tends to result from trying to keep the clubface square to the target through and after impact instead of accelerating the clubhead speed through the ball. Striving to follow through with the clubface square tends to end in hitting at the ball rather than hitting through the ball. That also causes the clubface to stay open, imparting a left-to-right spin to the ball.
Worse yet, that forces your left wrist to break down, restricting the rotation of your left forearm. Failing to rotate your forearms correctly triggers unfavorable chain reaction, affecting the path and alignment of the clubface. That also inhibits clubhead acceleration, causing a severe lose of power and accuracy.