Let us consider the "apex" of your golf swing as I like to call it. The apex of the swing is that vital section from impact into the follow-through during which the club head stays on the line of flight, anything from ten inches to a foot past the point of impact, the longer the better. When the club head leaves the line of flight as it must in due course, it comes out of the apex of the swing. Maintaining the apex without any temptation to make a bodily lurch forward is yet one more sign of the top-class player. If you aim for this, you will play better golf.
I was by no means surprised when a few years ago the Americans came out with five agreed basic principles of the golf technique. The most significant of the five was the one which laid down that the club head is driven "into and along a line". I had been teaching on this principle for years and still do. It is certainly not the same as "in to out".
Here I will make my one solitary reference to the torment of socketing with iron clubs and "heeling" the ball with the woods. I have an unusual but instantly effective cure.
The socket arises from one of two movements either (a) an exaggerated "in to out" action or (b) the most common, the shoulders turning too early in the downswing and the right hand rolling over the left.
In effect I treat the victim by administering his own poison.
I tell him to address the ball toward the heel of the blub! This instinctively leads the player to bring the hands and club head inside on the downswing as distinct from the dangerous throwing out of the arms from the body. It also encourages the essential lateral movement into the ball bringing the shoulders square at impact. If he does this he will immediately start to play better golf.
If you are afflicted by socketing or striking the ball with the heel of the woods, if you find difficulty in tracing a club-line straight through the ball, adopt this method of address but take care not to move your feet nearer to the ball in doing so.
This is no gimmick. Gimmicks and golf do not go together and I would be the last to foist one upon a pupil. It is simply a slight, but permissible, exaggeration which gives the correct movement into the ball.
Making a delivery of the club head within the framework of a shaped swing is not one to be learned overnight. The answer is to be found in that all-important eight o'clock position of the club head as the hands arrive almost at ball level.
There is an exercise which I have proved can help enormously, though you will not find it easy at first. This is the swinging of the club head down into the impact position and stopping, otherwise known as "hitting and stopping''.
The object is to increase hand-control of the club head. To allow you to stop it at impact the hands must retain control in the downswing with the back of the left hand in line with the forearm as the club head comes into the impact position.
If you cannot stop the club head it can only be because the club head has been allowed to overtake the hands too early. Remember that while you are aiming to stop at impact the club must still be SWUNG down. Work on this exercise and train yourself and your hands to master it.
Utilise all the phases of the backswing and the downswing and when you bring the club head to a stop, check that your impact position left hand in line with forearm and square to the line of flight, left shoulder up, right knee folding in ... is precisely correct the posed position.
You will not be able to perform this exercise unless you keep firmly in your mind the need to WAIT FOR IT, and to keep the movement from the top smooth and unhurried.
But master it and perform it repeatedly. When you feel your hands and forearms aching as you persevere with this invaluable exercise you will know you are really achieving something. You will soon notice that you are able to p[lay better golf.
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