Are Misunderstandings Keeping You From Playing Better Golf ?

Are Misunderstandings Keeping You From Playing Better Golf ?

Cindy Jones
P.G.A. Professional
Founder, Savannah Golf School

People play golf for many reasons. Regardless of whether you play for the personal challenge, competition, relaxation, exercise or for business or social reasons, it is much more enjoyable to be out on the course playing when you are hitting the ball well. Over the past twenty years I have found that more often than not, it is a player’s misconceptions about the golf swing that have stood in the way of their improvement.

I have found that the two most common misconceptions about the golf swing are:

The belief that it is necessary to keep the lead arm stiff or straight in the backswing.

This belief often leads to tension and will actually reduce clubhead speed and will make it less likely that the face of the club will be square at impact. While the lead arm should be relatively straight throughout the swing – don’t confuse straight with stiff. If you’ve seen yourself on video with excessive bending of the arm at the top of the backswing, or with a “chicken wing” of the arm through the impact area or follow through, I believe the cause of the problem is rooted in the the hands and not the arm. When the players hands are working correctly in the backswing, downswing and thru the impact area the lead arm will not bend or “chicken wing” through the impact area. I believe that the cure is in the hands – so trying to prevent the lead arm from “breaking down” will be counterproductive and unsuccessful unless the cause of the problem is understood and applied.

Keep your head down.

Many people believe that when a shot has been topped or hit thin it was because they lifted their head or “looked up”. However, in trying to keep the head down, the shoulder turn is limited in the backswing. This misconception can also restrict the movement of the body in the follow through. When the rear shoulder, hip, knee and foot don’t release after the shot is hit, it reduces distance, puts unnecessary strain on the lower back and neck, and can actually cause the lead arm to “chicken wing” through the impact area. Next time you play or practice replace the idea of keeping the head down with the idea that you are going to watch the ball. Because your eyes will be looking at the ball in your downswing, your head will, in fact, be “down” when you are striking the ball. Determine to watch the ball (after it has been hit), and your head will move as it should during the follow thru and finish of the swing. This will be much less stressful on the body and provide greater distance and directional control on your shots.

Several other misconceptions can cause otherwise capable golfers from playing to their best ability. I find invaluable information when reviewing the questionnaires that I ask each student complete before their first appointment. Their answers allow me to understand the belief system that is affecting the golf swing and makes improvement more easily attainable and more likely to be permanent.