SWING gremlins can hit any of us, at any given time. And as much as they are a direct result of a fundamental skill error, they can quickly become a mental problem during a round of golf if you don’t know how to address the issue quickly.
I’ve highlighted the eight most common problems amateurs face during a round and provided a quick fix for each one. So next time the gremlins attack your game, you’ll know how to fix it and save your scorecard.
1. WICKED SLICE
The main cause of a slice is the incorrect alignment of the feet, knees, hips and shoulders. Commonly the feet aim to the right, and the hips and shoulders aim to the left. The easiest way to fix this is to do the opposite – feet aim to the left and hips and shoulders to the right.
This shot usually results from the arms and hands outracing the body on the downswing. This is caused by the club being the first thing moving in your downswing, rather than your left side starting back to the target. The best way to stop this and create the correct sequence of movement in the downswing is to have a proper, full practice swing (through to a full finish, swinging at your normal swing speed, not faster or slower).
3. DUFFING IT (hitting it fat)
Depending on the type of lie you have, this common gremlin is mainly due to incorrect weight distribution. Try putting a little more of your weight into your left side. Most players shift too much weight no matter what the lie is like and also try to hit the ball too hard.
4. BLADING IT (hitting it thin)
Hitting it thin happens most often with pitch shots. This is a result of only using your arms in the shot, rather than a combination of the arms and chest during the swing. To get this combination, connect yours arms and chest at address. You will often see players holding a towel, glove or headcover under their arms at address during a practice session to get this feeling of ‘connection’. Give it a go.
5. TOPPING IT
The topped shot is usually caused by pulling with your hands at the top of your swing. This action straightens your spine from your original posture position. Change two things – lighten up on your left grip a little and flex you knees slightly. This will help you maintain your posture and allow you to make solid contact.
6. SKYING IT OFF THE TEE
Skying your driver can happen a result of two things. You are teeing the ball up too high OR having your weight too much on your left side at address. When teeing up your ball only half of the ball should be above the face of the driver when you address the ball. Find a tee that sets it at the right height for you. If you are putting too much of your weight into your left side, shift some into your right side at address. This will stop the steep angle of attack you have been creating by having too much weight on your left side.
7. THE DREADED SHANK
Most commonly occurs with a wedge. This is usually a result of the path of the club starting too much ‘inside’ on the takeaway. Change this by setting your weight about 10 per cent more on your left side at address. You should feel as though the club is going back on a more upright path or that you have folded your right arm to set the club on the takeaway. This will allow the club to swing on a steeper backswing and allow the club head to close at impact instead of being open, which is the main cause of the resulting shank.
8. PUTTING YIPS
The yips can be a result of many things, but there are a couple of things you can try that may help. Work on having the same length backswing and follow through in your putting stroke. This will improve your distance control and take pressure of your second putt, if you need one! The second thing to try is to change your grip. Changing from the standard grip to a claw grip may be what you need to change your motor pattern and give you a different feel all together.
– Jason Laws is the NSW PGA Teaching Professional of the Year. For help on any of the above problems, email him at [email protected] or call (02) 4928 1664 to book a lesson.