A little advice can be a dangerous thing. We've all been there. You hit a poor shot and before the ball has even touched down, a well-meaning member of your foursome chimes in with some armchair commentary on how you didn't "keep your left arm straight" or how you "rushed from the top".
The peril in taking unsolicited feedback like this to heart (beyond the obvious risk in accepting a diagnosis from someone who is not a professional) is that so much of our accepted golf wisdom is simply wrong.
Lucky for us, we have an expert on our side – Titleist staff member Jonathan Yarwood – who has selected a number of golf myths that he'd like to dispel for us.
We hope you enjoy these myth-busters and for more great instruction from Jonathan, visit JonathanYarwood.com, check out his YouTube Channel and follow him on Instagram.
Thanks for the help, Jonathan!
Golf Myth 1: Keep Your Head Still
"You have a much greater chance of topping the ball and hitting a poor shot by keeping your head still than you actually do in letting your head move. " - Jonathan
With an iron, as the club moves back and you move pressure into your trail foot, allow your head to move SLIGHTLY to the right (for a right-handed golfer). If you brace into your trail side properly on the backswing, there’s not a great deal of swaying with your head, but on the way back, allow it to move naturally with your weight shift.
In the downswing, your head should move down as you move into your lead side and pressure moves into your lead foot. From there it moves forward from its position at address and moves up as you swing through and into your finish position.
The head movement is similar for a driver, but with one important difference. On the backswing, let your head move slightly to the right as you move pressure into your trail foot. In transition, your head should move down slightly as you shift your weight and pressure into the lead foot BUT, here’s where the world’s best drivers of the golf ball do something a little different.
Because the ball is teed up, the objective is to hit the ball on an ascending angle of attack. As the club swings down, it will reach the bottom of its arc behind the ball and then start to rise up as it moves towards your lead foot. To support this upward angle of attack, allow your head to move back slightly to the right. You want the feeling of your head staying behind the ball at impact, not swaying past it.
Allowing your head to move allows your body to move freely, gives your swing flow, produces more speed and allows you to strike the ball more consistently.
Golf Myth 2: Make a Big Turn
"Seems I've spent half my life telling people to turn LESS. If you've been told to turn, it's a real big misnomer. There is absolutely no correlation between making a big turn and hitting the ball a long way. Make sure you coil, make sure you shift and make sure you turn more as you hit it – that's what they should be saying." - Jonathan
For the majority of golfers, an attempt to make a bigger turn will lead to what Jonathan terms an “an early turn”, a weak, out-of-sequence move that doesn’t allow you to use the ground to create pressure and torque to power the swing. Furthermore, if you make too big a turn, you simply can not unwind your body fast enough to get back to impact in time, so you end up flipping the club to release it - a very inconsistent and unreliable way to square the club face.
Most pros focus on turning in a better sequence in order to maximize torque in their backswing. The goal is to get more open at impact so that they can do LESS with their hands (a key for solid ball-striking).
Here's how the pros do it:
- Get your arms and the club moving on their journey back first.
- Feel little pressure move into your trail foot - not a big sway.
- Feel your trail side extend upwards as your lead side goes downward. This produces an angled or tilted coil and creates resistance between your upper and lower body.
- Your arms and the club should reach the top at about the same time, halted by the torque you’ve created by coiling your body against the ground. Your shoulders will likely turn a bit less than 90° and your hips around 45°.
- From here, shift toward the target, moving pressure from your trail foot into your lead foot.
- Now it’s time to turn, opening your lead side to bring the arms and club into the ball.
Myth 3: Swing Slowly
"Swinging slowly is the worst thing you can do. When you swing slowly, obviously, you're not generating any power, but you're also getting all the components going at the same speed. When things get moving at the same rate they get really out of sync and this perpetuates the power loss." - Jonathan
Looks can be deceiving. Throughout golf history there have been many great players who have hit the golf ball miles with seemingly effortless swings. Maybe the contrast between these types of smooth, well-sequenced swings and the violent, uncoordinated lashes we see from many unskilled golfers is what has perpetuated the myth that you should swing slowly. But as Jonathan told us, smooth is not the same thing as slow. Even pros with the most syrupy of swings aren’t trying to swing slowly - you need speed to hit it far.
The big issue with swinging too slowly is that it gets all the components of your swing moving together at the same rate. When this happens you break the chain reaction that allows forces to accelerate as you pass energy from your legs to your core to your shoulders to your arms to your hands and, ultimately, to the club head.
To Create the Right Sequence:
- Get the club and your arms moving away from the ball first.
- The body then carries the motion to the top of the swing.
- From the top, shift your pressure from your trail leg and foot to your left side (for a right-handed golfer) as the body leads the action down.
- The shoulders, arms and hands will follow, passing along built-up speed to the club head.
Build speed into your swing by swinging the club upside down. Grip the club at the bottom of the shaft, near the club head. Keep a loose grip and make some practice swings, trying to make the grip end of the shaft “whoosh” as you swing it. Also make short takeaway swings where you also hear the shaft “whoosh” to ingrain the feeling of the club and arms moving first to start the golf swing.
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