Dear TJ, I began playing golf three months ago and I am still trying to iron out my swing. Here is a link to my youtube swing. I look forward to your comments.Silas P., Via email Silas, Three things struck me when I viewed your swing. 1. If we made a documentary on it, we’d call it Titleists in the Mist — where did you film it, at the foot of Mount St. Helens? — very beautiful. 2. You must have bought the all-day bushel-basket deal — be careful about hitting so many balls off a mat; most mats are bad for your joints. 3. It’s hard to believe you’ve only been playing three months –- your swing is very sound — kudos to you!
As always I’ll give you just one thing to work on. So here’s a problem you can fix right away. Pause your video at impact and you’ll notice one glaring feature: your impact position looks just like your address. It shouldn’t. There are two major requirements in golf: direction and distance. Your direction is good (if you like straight) but with your size and strength, you should be hitting it farther. How? Keep your hips rotating through impact. You should look like our model David Toms — check out how much his left hip has turned through the ball.
Here’s a drill that will help you feel the correct position. Set up with your, uh, posterior touching the chair [see photo of me below]. As you approach impact make sure that you rotate your front hip enough to not only touch the chair but actually move it back a few inches. At first your accuracy may suffer, but as soon as you learn to time it, you’ll hit it straight and farther than ever. And when you get tired you’ll have the best (or at least the nearest) seat at the show.
Yo TJ, My No. 1 problem is swinging way too hard to begin my downswing — and by too hard, I mean enough to impale a phone book. It causes fat shots, pulls, hooks, slices and toppers and even some forearm soreness. What’s the best way to control this or start my downswing with correct tempo? When I watch pros swing and see how their club-to-wrist angle gets tighter as they approach the ball I say, "Why can’t I do that?"Christian B. Los Angeles Ah, but you can do that CB, when you hit a phone book. Unfortunately hitting a ball is another story. You have two choices: Find a "phone book tournament" or stop trying to manipulate the club. I’d suggest the latter.
Here’s the reason you must stop trying to make the club go "somewhere." Any pressure or force you apply to a rotating object [like your clubhead] encourages the object to leave the orbit in the direction of the force applied — it’s called tangential acceleration and it’s the reason you fly out of the cart if the driver suddenly swerves. Drop that 25-cent term as you recount the horror of the moment at the 19th hole, “So there I was, a victim of tangential acceleration…," and the crowd will murmur in admiration. The FixAs you start down from the top you turn on the force and TA kicks in causing you to uncock that angle you see the pros holding until just before impact.
Now here’s what makes golf so cool — the people who play it the best have learned that it’s mostly counter-intuitive. Remember that Seinfield episode where George does the opposite of his every instinct and becomes successful? Golf is exactly the same. Whatever you think you should be doing, do the opposite. So here’s the Big Concept: The golf swing is something to nothing — during the backswing you do "something" like cock your wrists and turn your core but during the downswing, you do "nothing" — just the opposite of what you think you should be doing.
Here’s a drill for you: About halfway into your downswing let the club fly out of your hands — if you done nothing the club should hit the dirt behind you along your toe line — if you over-manipulate the club from the top, your club will land near the target line. Warning: Try this only when you’re alone at home so you won’t hurt anybody, or get caught looking stupid. Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher TJ Tomasi, Ph.D., a Class A PGA
professional, teaches at the Nantucket Golf Club in Massachusetts. You
can learn more about TJ at www.tjtomasi.com