Sometimes the best thing you can do is go back to basics. There are many in the game who believe that golf tuition is, at times, a little overbearing.
Here at bunkered, we have tried to simplify our tuition in recent years so that the ordinary golfer can understand it, put it to test and see results without being bamboozled along the way.
For this special feature, we asked no fewer than five members of our esteemed Tuition Panel to give us their own ‘Tip For Life’. We wanted them to give us a pointer that they hand out almost on a weekly basis, and the kind of advice that will still be getting used by teaching professionals for years to come.
We love the results, and we hope you do, too. So much so, in fact, that we want you to share your thoughts on Twitter using #tipforlife. If you learned something, or saw some improvement in your game, let us know and we’ll share your experience with other readers. Be sure to include @BunkeredOnline in your tweet.
If you want more from your golf game this summer, give the guys in the Tuition Panel a shout and book a lesson. Remember, the more you practice… the luckier you get.
No.1 – Get your chin off your chest
By Andrew Jowett, Head PGA professional at Gleneagles. For lessons, call 01764 694343.
You always hear somebody saying it or read about it - that old piece of advice about ‘keeping your eyes on the ball’. What tends to happen when people follow that advice is that the chin drops onto the chest.
Or, alternatively, you’ve been told to keep your head down, so the chin drops down. But the moment your chin drops onto your chest, it ultimately prevents you from making a compete or full shoulder turn because your chin is in the way.
As a result, you’ll do one of two things. Your left shoulder will butt into your chin, push you to the right and you’ll sway laterally. You may also adjust your height to accommodate it.
So, as your shoulder tries to turn, it will bob you up and down during the course of the swing. Both of those things will have massively detrimental effects on your ability to strike the ball cleanly.
The moment you lift your chin off your chest, you’ll have the feeling that you’re looking down your nose on the ball. You can still keep your focus on the ball - I’m not suggesting you don’t need to do that - but the moment your chin comes up, that allows you to make a full shoulder turn and maximise your backswing. You’ll get a better follow-through with your chin being out of the way and, in turn, you’ll have a much better, free-flowing moment.
No.2 – Get a parallel takeaway
By Gavin Abson, Head PGA professional at The Carrick. For lessons, call 07967 206266.
I believe that the swing works as a chain reaction. What you do at the start of the swing, whether that’s your set-up or how you move away from the golf ball, has a huge effect on what you do thereafter. If you can get the start of the golf swing right, you give yourself a chance of getting the rest of it right.
It should, theoretically, fall into place nicely. When you don’t get it right, you have to make a number of compensations and, in my opinion, the most consistent golf swings are the ones with fewer compensations - they are easier to repeat. Always look for simplicity. Don’t make it difficult for yourself. I work on this position all the time.
After we’ve got a great set-up - with good posture, grip, weight distribution and so on - we want to get the club at hip height, or just below. We want the shaft parallel with the feet on the ground and a soft flex in the right elbow. You want the toe of the club pointing to the sky, virtually at the same angle as the spine.
When the shaft of the club is parallel to the feet, the clubhead should be positioned ‘through the hands’. When I’m filming a pupil, I want to see the shaft in the line with your feet with the clubhead covering the hands and pointing to the sky.
No.3 – Stick your bum out
By Andy Carlton, Head PGA professional at Paisley GC. For lessons, call 0141 884 4114.
You can play golf two or three times a week and be fine but you may go a month or a few months in the winter where you don’t hit a ball.
For me, you’ve got to get the basics right to be a good golfer. More to the point, you need to get them right all the time. You’ve got to have a strong posture if you’re going to get consistency with your swing. By sticking your backside out, you’re giving yourself every opportunity to have good posture at address.
When you have that, it should be your main base. It’s a solid fundamental and will lead to a better backswing and better shoulder turn. A weak posture means you lose power and you can fall into all kinds of different positions in the backswing and follow-through.
I teach this tip to everyone: juniors, lady golfers, gents, experienced players and those new to the game. Get your bum out, get your back straight and, straight away, you’ve got really good and really solid foundations to build from.
No.4 – Stay low to hit it high
By Scott Clark, Director of Golf at Prestonfield GC. For lessons, call 0131 667 8597.
The key to playing the right shot at the right time is understanding what the club has to do to make the golf ball act a certain way. It sounds simple but it’s not, and a lot of mistakes happen because you set up the club one way only to swing in a style which contradicts what you are trying to do.
That’s the key word here - contradiction. Golf is full of them and the title of this piece is a great example. ‘Stay low to hit it high’. What exactly does that mean?
To play a higher shot than the club is designed for, you need to increase the loft of the clubface. You do this by encouraging the shaft to fall backwards away from the target. As it does the face naturally adds loft as the shaft and grip move closer to the ground. The club is telling you that to play this particular shot, you need to adapt your normal set-up to support this new club position.
If you use your belt buckle as a guide, with the need to point the club’s grip at it, you will find yourself in a set-up position that is naturally lower to the ground than it would usually be. Then just commit and swing to a full finish.
No.5 – Keep your left wrist flat
By Steve Johnston, PGA professional at Peebles GC. For lessons, call 01721 720197.
Everyone wants to be consistent, and consistently good, so this ‘Tip for Life’ is one that will help you get more control and reduce your shot dispersion.
Assuming you have taken a good neutral grip on the club, having a flat left wrist controls the clubface. Of course, if your grip is too strong or too weak, you’re going to have problems at impact - that goes without saying. A good way to measure this is line the leading edge of your club with the back of your glove.
If your hand gets out of line, you lose the radius of your swing. The result will be inconsistent shots. So, to fix that, get the back of your left wrist married up to your clubface at both address and impact.
Here’s a drill to help you get the right feeling for this move. Put the club up your left arm, grip the metal of the shaft, and try to force the butt end of the club into your left forearm. That flattens out your left wrist. Keep that solid, back and through. If you lose the radius, the butt-end of the club will move away from your arm. I get people to do this for five minutes to try and get the right feeling.
No.6 – Reduce your lower body movement
By Steve Johnston
A lot of people talk about hip turn but don’t really know how it works, or in what sequence. A lot of amateurs have too much body rotation, or rather too much lower body rotation.
Here’s what usually goes wrong: the left knee moves forward, the right leg straightens and the hips turn almost as far as the shoulders. From there, it’s actually very hard to try and generate power because there’s so little torque left in the swing.
A tip would be to address the ball with your knees out. This gives you the feeling of the weight being on the outside of your feet. If you take a couple of swings like this, you won’t be able to move your hips as much, and that’s a good thing.
Your hips pretty much stay forward. So when you come back down on the way through, you’ve got more torque available when you do actually make the hip turn at the right time. It’ll feel strange but it gives you an idea of how much you’re moving in your swing.