We have all experienced that three or four-hole stretch, of hitting the ball exactly where you want, only to be followed by the worst shot you could ever imagine on the subsequent tee-box. How about being on the range and striking the ball exactly where you want to for five shots in a row, only to be followed by a really bad hook, slice, or any other awful miss, having no clue where that shot came from. You could even just be that player that hits only one or two good shots in a row always to be followed by another that is absolutely depressing when you hit it, again wondering why it is so hard to swing the “same” every time.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many golfers I see, that inform me that their biggest issue is that they have 3-5 different swings, and that’s why they are so inconsistent; that they do not understand why they swing different every time.
Does your swing really change every time you hit the ball?
My extremely broad answer to that, is No. You are probably thinking that makes absolutely no sense. If I hit a great shot, and then I hit an awful shot, there was obviously a difference! I would respond with telling you, you are correct. There is a difference, but what is it? Did your swing really change mechanically from one shot to the next? What was actually different?
What’s wonderful about today’s world of golf instruction is the advancement in technology which, not only removes a lot of the guess work in our job as golf instructors, but also removes room for opinions. So, when I tell you that you do not swing differently every time; it’s not what I think, it’s what I can prove. Here is why; one very powerful piece of technology that we use, known as Advanced Motion Measurement 3D, allows us to measure, to the nearest degree, hundreds of different parameters in ones biomechanics informing us exactly how you move. The fascinating fact, is the data that we are able to attain from each individual looks practically identical from one swing to the next, no matter how good or bad you strike the ball. I will always get the individual that comes in for his assessment, and while he is on 3D, he is very adamant about making sure that we collect his data on a good shot, especially if he has only been hitting “poor” shots, but the fact of the matter is, I am not going to see much of a difference on the “well struck” shot.
That said, we still have not shed much light on to what in the world is different from the good shot, and the bad shot. The answer is very simple–Timing. At the end of the day, timing is a big part, if not the biggest part of the answer to what separates consistent, and inconsistent ball strikers.
Let me explain further. Here is an analogy I like to communicate to most of my clients in our first visit together. I like to imagine the golf swing (in its mechanical state) as an equation consisting of variables which equal timing.
For example; if we were to look at an extremely consistent ball striker, say even a tour player, their equation may look like something as simple as A+B= Timing. There are few variables in the equation making it very easy to solve consistently.
While, a higher handicappers’ equation may look like A+B+C+D+E+Z etc = Timing. That said, it is still an equation, and it still can be solved, hence the good shots, but is a lot more difficult.
Let me take another step farther and give you an example of how this “equation” can play out in the actual motion. Let’s look at the first move off the ball; the take away. Let’s say there are 5 total variables in the first move off the ball.
A= Club, B= Hands, C= Arms, D = Torso, and E= Hips.
If you were to observe several great ball strikers, for the most part, you should start to notice a commonality in their first move off the ball. Ideally, you would see very little movement (rotation) of the hands or clubface, the arms would be moving with the torso, and the lower body would be relatively quiet thus far. Just as you can read in several golf instruction books, you would see what has been coined as the “one-piece” takeaway. Now, before the assumption is made, that this is most efficient for all golfers, let me conclude quickly that, that is not necessarily the case. Someone’s physical capability, age, years playing, and sports played growing up etc…, has a huge impact on what is most efficient for them as an individual, but keep in mind, what is most efficient for the individual, is not always the most efficient in general.
Anyhow, what I would like you to take-note of, is that when observing a very efficient take-way, you see five separate variables working as one variable, in turn starting the process of making the timing equation easier to solve. One very common error I see (excluding reasons at this time) in a poorer ball strikers takeaway, is not rotating their torso, which gets their arms doing most of the work, hands rotating the clubface wide open, and the hips rotating way too much, in-turn starting the golf swing with five separate variables vs. one, which then leads to several other compensations (variables). This then leads to (most commonly) a clubface which is not square or on plane in the delivery position, resulting in subconscious, last second manipulation of the hands at impact.
What I have come to realize is, that when a player has a lot of manipulation with the hands, and is not in control with the bigger body parts at impact, they are not nearly as consistent as the player with little to no manipulation with the hands through impact. What todays’ technology has been able to prove is that, even the players with all of the extra variables in their golf swing, they repeat them very consistently from one swing to the next. The problem is that, at the end of the day, we are human, and when a player has extremely active hands through the impact zone swinging an object moving as fast as the club does, it is just way too hard to repeat.
In conclusion, when a player realizes that their swing heavily relies on over-all timing, and they actually don’t swing differently every time, they know that it is inevitable they are going to hit that shot that drives them crazy. It’s a small piece of mind that allows players to either accept their fate, not getting nearly as frustrated when it happens, or they begin the process of taking the necessary steps to start removing unnecessary variables in their swing, and making their equation easier to solve.