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7/2: a Golf lesson with Bob Silver
Jul 2nd, 2009 by alexfaye

The thing about golf is simplicity.  Every time there is an errant shot, for me at least, it is usually because there is more movement in the body than what is needed to properly execute the shot.

Bob has been telling me to “put my mind into my hands,” and today — finally — I think I understand.  If I make sure my hands are moving around my body properly, the club will naturally follow.  I don’t have to think about the club head or the club face.  I have to put a natural, relaxed grip on the club, and trust the fact that my hands will direct my body — that is, my body will follow my arms, and my arms will follow my hands.  So, I am thinking — during practice at least — only of my hands.  It is simple, and I like that.

He also asked me to visualize a rug hanging in front of me like a curtain, right about at my left toe.  When I come through the ball at impact, I want to make sure that I lay the entire shaft of the club on the rug — not just the club head.  All of the action — the empowered core muscles, the relaxed and neutral shoulders, the steady head, the extended arms — all of that is happening at impact, in front of the body.  The power is at impact and through the ball — not behind the ball, when all of the action of taking the club away and through is generating motion. That must be consistent, of course.  All practice done there is in creating a consistent and steady tempo that will deliver the hands to this one, simple and specific spot.

He taught me a drill today that I know will revolutionize my swing.  Keep in mind that my swing is already pretty good.  I am mid-range golfer, a 17-18 handicap, shooting consistently in the 90s — but like all golfers, I want to move to the next level– and for me, that’s the 80s.  I believe I have fifteen to twenty good years left where I can perform at that level, assuming of course that I at least maintain my current level of fitness, or even improve.  I continue to work on strength and flexibility — cardiovascular fitness has become a no brainer.  But the other aspects of fitness are always a challenge, and there’s always room for improvement.

Anyway, the drill.  Bob asked me to grip the club right above the club head, letting the shaft extend out at the left of my body, and then just swing the club, not letting the shaft touch my body.  (This is what John Wurzer had me doing in his Golf Excellence lab except he had inserted a thin dowel into the grip of the club, and I was gripping and swinging the club normally, trying to avoid hitting myself with that dowel.)  This keeps the club shaft in the proper position, forbids the wrists from becoming too frisky while still remaining “oily,” and puts the hands on the proper path.

It sounds complicated, but it’s not.   It’s much simpler to perform a good golf swing this way, with less action in the arms.  The power comes from the pivot and the core, and the control comes from the hands.  More practice this afternoon — trying to put this sequence into muscle memory so that out on the course, the mind remains simple and calm, focused on the sheer pleasure of the game.

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