Anyone can learn to swing a club, and play golf. Golf is like any other game; it is a compilation of a number of skill sets. One must learn to swing a club, to move the ball; one must learn to aim, to move the ball in the correct direction; and the object then becomes moving the ball proficiently around the hole and ultimately around the course. The object of golf is to score as low as possible. This article will discuss the swing itself, but do not think that a great swing instantly makes a great player. There are many skills to learn in playing any game, and golf is not different.
If you have been on a driving range, you must agree it is quite an interesting amusement watching all of the different methods people employ to move the golf ball. You have seen the chop, the push, the scoop, and on and on. It is amusing at least and excruciating worst, but entertaining none the less. Have you ever wondered why people swing the club the way they do? Are they mimicking a tour pro, or are they making it up on the go? The answer is that they do what they think is correct. This is not a characteristic only of golfers; this is a characteristic of anyone trying to learn a new skill. Boxing, lawn mowing, baseball, hammering, whatever the skill may be, there are different takes on how to do it. So as we watch the folks hit balls at the range, can we conclude that there are many different ways to skin a cat and one method is not better than the other? Yes and no; as long as the method employed allows you to move the golf ball from point A to point B efficiently, then yes. If you can consistently move your golf ball as you predetermined, then you are playing golf and your swing is O.K. However, if the method that you use is inconsistent, unpredictable, and limited, then no, your swing is not as good as it could be, or should be.
So how do you know if your swing is O.K.? If you are eating with a knife and fork and you are getting the food to your mouth in proper bits, assuming no bodily injury, then you are probably wielding the eating tools properly. I know, I have seen it too, the off person who holds their fork like a bicycle grip, but the food is consumed, and these folks are not losing weight, so they know how to wield a fork. The same is true of golf; we have seen many different swings, with different looks, but they cannot be called wrong if they produce the desired results. So the determining factor as to an efficient swing and a bad swing can be pared down to results. Does the swing in question produce good results? This is a simple concept, but some may argue what constitutes good results, and I must say this is an individual thing. A beginner may consider his swing a success if he can get the ball airborne. An expert would only consider his swing sound if he can consistently and on command move his shot as he has drawn it up in his mind. Ben Hogan said that he only hit about 3 perfect shots per round. Ben would move his ball toward the hole; if the pin was on the left he would draw the ball in, starting it at the center of the green and working it toward the hole. Likewise with a right side pin placement, Ben would fade the ball into the pin location, starting the ball in the center of the green and curving it toward the hole. If Ben decided to fade a ball into a right hand hole position and the ball ended in the middle of the green he would consider that a miss hit shot.
You are not Ben Hogan, but a good golf swing for the average player, needs to accomplish a few basic requirements;
· The swing must allow the player to hit the ball first and flush, meaning ball then ground.
· The swing must allow the player to produce adequate distance.
· The swing must allow the player to adjust and control trajectory and spin.
Some of you may want to add to this list and please feel free to do so, but I believe these three elements make up the basic criteria of a good swing. If you can do these things, you can play golf. Before we move on to how to accomplish these basics, I must point out that if you cannot do these things, it does not necessarily mean your swing is incorrect, it may mean that you have not mastered the skills yet. Remember, golf is an athletic action which requires some athletic timing and ability. Kicking a football is an athletic action that most of us can do, but as an athletic movement it can truly be mastered only by a great athlete. Golf is like that as well; only great athletes can ever hope to be top players. But unlike football kickers, average golfers can actually become quite good and compete at very high levels. Just remember that golf is an athletic movement and a lot of our failure in golf can be laid at the feet of poor athleticism.
All of that being said, golf is not high jumping; an average person should be able to average 80 around a par 72 golf course with little trouble and a sound swing. Before you write me and tell me that you know people with good swings who cannot break 80, I will tell you that there is more to golf than a good swing. Most talented players, who cannot score, do not score well because they do not know how to play golf. In case you were not listening; swinging the club is not playing golf, it is an element of golf. So what is the first fundamental of the golf swing? The first fundamental of the golf swing is to understand how to use the golfing tool. Remember the golf range, and the folks scooping their way to bad golf? These people scoop, because the golf club looks like it is made for scooping. In reality, the club does resemble a big spoon. The club has loft designed into the head to lift the ball in the air, right? So the beginner thinks that he needs to get under the ball. In reality however, the golf club is a little more dynamic than it looks. In fact the golf club is quite an ingenious design of physics. The club is designed so that the user can use it by applying only one force; tangential force! I know you all have heard that the golf swing is all about centrifugal force and on and on, blah, blah, blah. Well I am not a physicist, but I did take physics in school and I know that centrifugal force is an imaginary force. What? Yes, you heard me, there is no such force of physics.