NAPLES — There are many ways to swing a golf club. To prove this, you only need to tune in on your weekly PGA Tour event.
As I have always said, no two swings are alike. Some seem to look better than others because they may be more rhythmic and fluid. Some swings are high and long while others are short and quick. Some are hitters and some are swingers. There are just a lot of ways to do it. The golf ball really doesn't care about style points.
The one commonality that all the great players have is a good turn. The golf swing is a circular motion on a slant and, in order to create that motion, you must create a good turn. In all cases, the better your turn is, the better your consistency.
Most amateurs complain of their ball-striking skills and they just don't know how to improve. If they would improve their turn, they would get better very quickly. But there are reasons why a lot of amateurs can't turn.
Some of these are:
(1) Excessive tension in the hands, arms and shoulders. Muscular tension does not allow a free-flowing rotational movement to occur.
(2) Constant advice of trying to keep your head absolutely steady. If your head doesn't rotate a little bit on the backswing, your shoulders will not make a complete rotation. Sometimes this error is magnified by the golfer who tries to look at the ball with their dominant eye.
For example, if you are a right-eye dominant golfer, chances are that your head will fight your turn because you will be trying to look at the ball with your right eye. Not good. Learn to swing through an area and not at the ball.
(3) Trying to restrict your hips on the backswing. Most pros do not turn their hips much on the backswing because they are so flexible in their upper bodies. Unfortunately, most amateurs need to turn their hips on their backswing. The turning of the hips on the backswing allows the torso and shoulders to go through their full range of motion.
In addition to this, it is quite OK for the average amateur to allow their left heel to come off the ground on the backswing as this will allow the hips to turn.
(4) Setting up with excessive weight on the front leg at address. When you do this, you simply will rotate around your front leg and make little if any weight transfer on the backswing. Amateurs should set up with 60 percent of their weight on their back leg with their head slightly behind the ball at address. This will allow for maximum rotation.
(5) Trying to take the club back straight on the takeaway. If you try to take the club back in a straight line on the backswing, you will have difficulty turning your body. Generally, the straight line takeaway will cause a very high and upright swing, and little or no body turn.
From a logical standpoint, the golf ball is to the side of us when we address it. For that reason, you must arc the club inside the target line on the backswing. This will cause a lower, flatter backswing plane and allow for a better turn.
Don't allow your misconceptions about the golf swing stop you from making a good turn. If you work on the most important fundamental in golf — the turn — your game will immediately improve.
Dr. Jim Suttie, 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year, is available for lessons at Suttie Golf at the Club at Twin Eagles North Naples and Cog Hill Golf Club, Lemont, Ill. For lessons and program information call 800-765-3838 or Jmsuttie@aol.com