There are lot of helpful tips, advice and little nuances that you can take from watching tour players.
Jack Nicklaus’ well-known instruction book, Golf My Way, is a classic example. It is completely his swing, so if you try and completely copy his exact positions, you may or may not struggle, as it is only relevant to him.
It might be unachievable to model your swing on what Jack did, but I’ve always liked to think that if you can take one or two things from a variety of players, then you can certainly improve.
Set up like Jordan Spieth
Spieth sets himself up with his right eye below his left. He tilts a little, which makes his head a little bit closed, with his right eye sitting behind his left eye.
Subconsciously, he falls in line with his eye line, which helps him hit it a lot more on the way up, certainly with the driver. It also creates a little bit more of an in-to-out swing path.
Most people will keep their eyes parallel to their target line. If you slice, or if you have a habit of cutting across the ball, then moving your eyes the opposite way helps you attack the ball from the inside.
A slicer could try that by setting up with their right eye below their left. A good tip to help with this is to put a cap on, so you can see the visor move. Now, you can follow the line of your visor with your swing path.
Maintain posture like Adam Scott
Scott has all-round good basics. What I particularly like about him is how he maintains the height of his swing and has good balance. He positions the balance between his toes and his heels, so he’s right in the middle of his feet. He doesn’t favour the toe or the heel.
One of the big faults Tiger Woods now has is that he loses a lot of height in his swing, and goes towards the toes of his feet. This is why Tiger bobs his head on the way down. Scott, though, tries to maintain his height by keeping his weight in the centre of his feet, with the feeling of resting his chin on a shelf.
Put a towel down, which will help you feel where the weight is positioned in your feet. If you put your feet together and go either towards your toes or the heels of your feet, you’re going to fall over.
Try and stand up nice and tall with your chin on the imaginary shelf. If you fall back, you’ll alter your spine angle. If you fall forward, you’ll go below the shelf (like Tiger does). If you stand with your feet together, it’ll help you work on your balance and keep your height.
Stay on plane like Gregory Bourdy
A lot of people make the mistake of taking the club away from the address position off-plane almost immediately. Bourdy, a player I admire a lot, has a straight line position all the time. It’s perfectly on-plane back, through impact, and on the follow-through. It’s a sign of purer ball striking as there is no manipulation required.
As soon as you lose that in-line position, you’ve got to try to find a way to get it back at impact. So, in doing that, you’re manipulating your swing. But, to me, Bourdy doesn’t have that problem as he swings it so purely on plane. Notice how he keeps his left arm and club shaft aligned throughout the swing.
This is a very textbook position. It’s the ideal position to be in, actually. A lot of guys on tour will try and shape the ball, but they’ve got very well educated hands. For us mere mortals, it’s better for us to stay in that in-line position for as long as we possibly can.
Keep your spine angle solid like Matteo Manassero
Manassero maintains his spine angle very well and stays down on the shot longer than your average player. He hits ball then turf all the time.
So, rather than lift out of the shot when he gets to the top of his backswing, his spine angle is the same as at address. When he comes through impact, his spine angle, again, is the same as at address. Even when his clubhead is a good yard past the ball, he’s still down on the ball.
If you maintain your spine angle, you get a better ball/turf strike. If you lift out of the shot, you’ll have to work your way back into position. Granted, there’s a wee bit of give and take with this but not much.
Power up like Rory McIlroy
McIlroy generates an incredible amount of power from his contact with the ground. He uses his feet to help generate that power and create the torque in his swing.
Chris Como, Tiger’s current coach, jumped off a diving board recently to try and explain momentum and rotation - and he proved it because he could only swing his arms. He couldn’t get any strong movement at all because he wasn’t using his feet. There was no drive. McIlroy uses the ground to his advantage.
When McIlroy gets to the top of his swing, he pushes off with his feet. He applies a lot of force downwards into the ground, which turns his feet, ankles, and then has a knock-on effect on his knees, shoulders, arms, and then his club.
Steve Johnston is the PGA professional at Peebles GC. For lessons, call Steve on 01721 720197. Follow him on Twitter @mrstevejohnston.