Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pilot your Golf Swing for Better Golf Shots

I am always trying to think of creative ways to help golfers better understand the golf swing.  Following is an idea or picture which will help you visualize and feel a correct club head path for straighter and more solid golf shots!

I am comparing the club head path to that of a plane practicing "touch and go" landings on an aircraft carrier.  The plane heads in from the left side of the carrier, lines up with the runway (yellow arrow), makes a brief touch down and then takes off again and circles back to the left to repeat the process. 

As you can see in my driver downswing, I am coming sightly from the inside or left of the target line before traveling down the "runway" toward the target.  As my body rotates, the club follows that rotation and begins to swing left around my body to the finish.  Remember there are no straight lines in the golf swing...everything is a circle.



The aircraft is following the same principle.  The YELLOW arrow indicates the aircraft is coming in from slightly left of the carrier and then is lining up for a successful landing on the runway.  If the aircraft followed the LOWER RED arrow, the path would be too much from the left or inside the correct path and the plane would not make it to the runway.  In the golf swing, we call this being too "shallow" and will cause you to either top the ball or hit way behind the ball.  In addition, this inside path could cause you to hit shots way out to the right, or you would flip the club with your hands and hook the ball.

If the aircraft followed the UPPER RED line, that would be too steep of an approach and would not lead to a successful landing.

Nose first!
In the golf swing, a path which is too steep and coming from the outside or right of the target line could cause you to hit behind the ball (or deep divots), hit pop ups with your woods, and more than likely hit slices to the right or pulls to the left.  This path is commonly referred to as being "over the top".

Above is a view of the club starting to swing back to the left of the target line after it leaves the runway.   It is the same as the flight path as the plane coming off the deck and beginning to circle around to repeat the process.

The bottom line for your golf swing is you want a path which comes slightly from the inside, down the target line and then back to the inside of the target line to the finish.
Drill to improve club head path

In the picture above I am demonstrating a drill in which I placed a 3' long, 2x4 board about three inches to the left of my golf ball. I placed the ball about 4 inches from the front of the board.  My goal is to make small swings and not strike the board.  If I come too much from the inside I would strike the board and not the ball (OUCH!).  If I come "over the top" I would clip the board on my follow through, again very body jarring!  I recommend using an alignment rod in place of the board until you get very proficient at not striking the rod on the downswing.  And again, make 1/2 swings to get started.

By the way, I really admire and appreciate the skilled and brave pilots who put their life on the line on a daily basis!

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