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3 Common Golf Swing Tips That Can Kill Your Game
Stop me if you’ve heard any of these “Swing Tips”: Keep your lead arm straight; keep your head down; or keep your front heel planted. Sound familiar? Chances are, whether you’re a rank beginner or a seasoned pro, someone at some point has either given you one of these tips, or you’ve given one to someone else.
These are all well-intentioned, but ultimately misinformed swing thoughts. In the following paragraphs, we’ll break each of these down, and instead tweak them to become proper swing tips.
‘Keep Your Head Down’
The first one is the famous, “Keep your head down.” The thinking behind this one is that by keeping your head down during the swing will allow you to stay down through impact and make better contact. The problem with this is that if you focus on keeping your head down, the first thing that happens is you dip your chin and it comes to close to your chest. When your chin is too close, as you swing your shoulders have to move your head, causing the exact opposite of the desired result.
Instead, try keeping your eyes on the ball. This will actually produce the effect that the “keeping your head down” mantra is intended achieve. By keeping your head up, but eyes on the ball this will allow your shoulders to swing freely. Keep your eyes on the ball but allow your head to come up as a natural progression of the swing, letting it rise to follow the ball, AFTER impact.
‘Keep Your Leading Arm Straight’
Keeping your left (or right for you lefties) arm straight during the swing is another of the most commonly dished out tips. Mostly by husbands to their wives, because they secretly want them to get frustrated and quit the game, leaving it to the man and his buddies. OK, maybe not, but still this tip, no matter how well-intentioned, is sure to frustrate most golfers.
Here’s why. When thinking about where this tip originated, it likely came about when the first photograph of the swing was taken at the top of the backswing. If you look at the swing of a player at the top of the swing it likely appears that the arm is straight.
But try this for me: take your arms, hold them in front of you at eye level like you’re holding a golf club. Now take it back like you would your backswing, but keep that lead arm locked out and straight. Feel that? That’s tension, and tension is the enemy of the golf swing. Tension leads to miss-hits and loss of distance. Keeping the arm straight will undoubtedly lead to a loss of club head speed.
Instead, think of a piece of string or a rope with a weight tied to the end. Now think about swinging it back and forth. What happens? The string straightens out naturally, using the momentum and centrifugal force to do the work. That’s what you want to feel during the swing. Your lead arm, if its kept in a natural, loose position will straighten on its own during the swing, due to the weight of the club head acting much in the same way the string and weight do.
‘Keep Your Front Heel Planted’
This last so-called tip is one that received quite a bit of attention recently when Tiger Woods said he was working on keeping his left heel planted throughout the swing. The thinking behind this is to keep a solid base of the golf swing and maintain stability throughout the swing. While this is extremely important, for the average golfer trying to do so by keeping the heel planted is not going to help. Although we need to have a stable lower body, more importantly we need to have weight transfer. Weight transfer allows us to use the power and momentum that our body creates during the swing and apply it to hitting the ball.
On the backswing, the weight has to be loaded onto the back foot. The rotation of the shoulders should naturally allow the weight to transfer onto the back foot. Once you’re rotating, the weight will naturally move to the inside of the left foot. At the top of the backswing your lower body triggers the start of the downswing and that is generated by the transfer of weight. Keeping the heel down, or not allowing it to move stunts the ability of your body to transfer the power being generated and inhibits the distance and control.
In summary, instead of keeping your head down, keep your head up, but eyes on the ball. Instead of keeping your lead arm straight, let it naturally extend with the weight of the club. Think of the swinging string with the weight attached. And lastly, instead of keeping your front foot planted, think of weight transfer and let it flow with the movement of your body.