One of the most obvious errors golfers make is an excessively long swing. This makes it difficult to return back to impact with a square clubface with any consistency. A long swing isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the downswing is in the right sequence.
For example, John Daly, Carlos Franco, Freddie Couples and other PGA Tour stars have long swings and do well with them. But, the longer the swing is, the harder it is to time. If you are a senior player with limited flexibility, a long swing might be the only way to get your power.
Most golfers have long swings because their arm swing continues to move after their shoulders have stopped turning. If this sounds like you, try to stop your arm swing once your shoulders have stopped turning. Doing this, you will be able to start your dowswing with your lower body instead of starting your downswing with a “casting” motion of your arms and hands. The ladies are especially guilty of this “all arms” backswing.
As I have said there is nothing wrong with a long swing if you’re turning your shoulders 120 degrees like John Daly. But, most of us can’t turn our torso that much, so a shorter arm swing would be more appropriate.
The next question is, “How do we keep our swing short?” The following are some easy tips to try to shorten your swing and add consistency to your ball striking:
-- Widen your stance and cut down on your hip turn on the backswing.
-- Eliminate your desire to sway to the right on the backswing. Just turn around your spine. Stay centered when you swing.
-- Keep your left foot on the ground on the backswing.
-- Set your wrists and fold your right elbow a little earlier on the backswing. This will keep your right elbow a little closer to your body at the top. A little less extension on your backswing does wonders to shorten your arm swing.
-- Try not to let the club come too far to the inside on the backswing. This generally will cause a runaway arm lift at the top.
-- Here’s the real kicker. Try to start your downswing with your lower body when you feel your swing is only ½-way back.
-- Keep your backswing “slow.” All fast swingers tend to over-swing.
-- Start your backswing with your arms and shoulders together. Most amateurs start their swing with their arms and never turn their shoulders. An arms-only backswing will make your swing so long you might hit your head with the club at the top.
Remember, a longer swing will not necessarily help you hit the ball longer. I would rather have the ball 200 yards in the fairway than 300 yards out of bounds. A good drill to practice to help you shorten your swing is the “stop at the top drill.” Just stop your swing at the top for three seconds and check yourself in the mirror. Now swing down. Butch Harmon made Tiger do this one for over a year. YouWill be surprised that your new shorter swing will add power and consistency to your ball striking. Go to naplesnews.com/sports to see how to fix your long swing.
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Dr. Jim Suttie, the 2000 PGA Teacher of the Year, is director of instruction at The Club at TwinEagles in North Naples and at Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Ill. He also is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and rated No. 15 by Golf Digest. Suttie coaches the FGCU men’s golf team. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.