In my years of teaching, I have seen thousands of swings with many different issues. The cure for almost all of these issues can be simplified down into 4 aspects of a good golf swing. Paying attention to these 4 S’s helps cure common swing faults, leading to a greater enjoyment of the game. Below, we’ll go through these 4 S’s: Set-Up, Sequence, Speed, and Simplify.
Curing Common Swing Faults: 4 S’s
We start with the set up. If it’s not correct, the chances of making a good swing are minimal at best. Within the setup, there are 2 things to focus on. The first is the stance.
I often see a player, especially with a driver, set up with their feet well outside of shoulder length. The goal is to restrict hip turn, creating more power. This often works well for tour players and the young and flexible. For the majority of us, extra wide feet and restricted hip turn cause a sliding motion during the swing. We simply aren’t flexible enough to make a complete shoulder turn without more hip rotation.
Rather than trying to force it, put your feet a little closer together so you can make a full rotation without feeling discomfort. A great way to find your width is to start hitting balls with your feet together. After 5 well struck shots, move them about an inch apart and repeat. Keep doing this until you start to feel restricted and start getting mixed results. Go back one position and stick with that.
The next common issue I see with the set-up is bad alignment. For alignment, many players focus on their feet and the club face. These are relatively easy to get lined up right. As you work on your alignment, take a look at your hips and shoulders. If all four of these are not aligned the same (feet, club face, hips, and shoulders), the results will never improve.
A drill I like to use is having my students get set up. From there, take the club and lay it across their hips, then shoulders to make sure both of those lines match their feet. Once your stance and alignment correct, we can look on to the next issue.
Swinging the club in the correct sequence has a huge effect on your consistency and distance. Issues caused by a bad sequence include an over the top move and the dreaded casting of the club on the downswing. Both result in inconsistent contact and flight direction problems. Getting in the right sequence starts with the takeaway.
The term “one-piece takeaway” is one that is often used but rarely understood. For this takeaway, the backswing starts with a rotation of the shoulders and trunk. As a result, the club moves away in one piece with the arms and hands. A great drill to get this feeling: try leaving clubhead behind the ball as long as possible when starting your swing. A common tendency is to snatch the club head away from the ball with your hands, getting the club off-plane. By delaying the movement of the club head, your takeaway is controlled by the big muscles, keeping you connected with as much power as possible.
At the top of your swing, focus on staying relaxed so that your hands will set properly. Next, start the downswing from the ground up. In other words, the first move coming down should be the slight weight shift onto the front foot. Keep your arms and hands relaxed, allowing them to naturally follow and get to the golf ball last. This is key to preserving as much of your power until impact, resulting in the maximum distance. Finally, make sure to continue to rotate into a full finish while staying relaxed and balanced.
You’ve now got a proper set-up and the ability to swing in sequence. The next “S” to look at is speed.
I use the term “speed” because the speed of the clubhead at impact is what provides distance (I also chose “speed” because it fits the “S” theme). What we’re really looking at is tempo. The key to tempo is to match the tempo of the backswing and downswing with your natural tempo. Next time you are out walking, pay attention to how you get from point a to point b. Some meander along, while others go straight from A to B with a purpose. This will tell you what your natural tempo is. For those that wanderer, go with a slow speed and tempo. If you tend to walk direct, focusing on getting to the end, a fast tempo works best.
Remember, focus on matching the backswing and downswing finding your perfect speed. Now we come to the last S to cure common swing faults.
One of the most common swing faults I see is the tendency to make the swing more difficult than it needs to be. It’s very easy to do with the abundance of information out there. The cure for overthinking is to simplify.
Your swing is as simple as this: Set up correctly, rotate your chest away from your target, then rotate it back to your target, all in a relaxed, natural tempo and motion. Forget about what the club is doing. The club will follow your body in the correct fashion unless you do something to manipulate it. As long as you stay relaxed and balanced, the rest of the stuff will take care of itself. It sounds almost too simple but give it a try, and I bet you will see better results.
Finally, don’t analyze every single shot and swing. We all make bad swings. If you identify an issue with every swing and try to correct it on the next one, you’ll never swing the club the same way twice and the results will not be good.
Summarizing Swing Fault Cures
Next time you’re out at the course for a practice session, focus on these 4 “S’s” to cure common swing faults. You’ll see improvement before you know it.
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