The Heart of Golf
Other analogies can be useful as well. Although I’ve never done it, I
can identify with the process of ski jumping. A jumper builds momentum
down an arc-like ramp, then is slung outward, helped by his own explosive
spring at the moment of “takeoff.” The same principle is at work.
In performing the fingertip pendulum swing, most right-handed players
instinctively choose to use their right hand, perhaps because the right hand
is their dominant hand (and is also the hand known to be “trigger happy”
at the top). So it’s important to feel a swinging action from this isolated,
right-handed standpoint. The left hand, however, is the swing’s
hand (since it is in full contact with the grip). So a golfer might find it
helpful to practice this exercise from the left hand feeling perspective as
well. Finally, I practice a third way, and that is with
hands. This twohanded,
or “four fingertip” approach can be especially helpful to someone
who has difficulty maintaining a hold with the two fingertips of one hand.
A note of caution: If you employ both hands, make sure to place the
two sets of fingertips very close together on the grip, if not touching. If
you are right-handed, you want your right hand fingers on
. Vice versa
for lefties. These positions― which are my own concoction― are opposite
from the normal hand placement. Their purpose is to discourage what
Ernest Jones called “levering,” or using hand/finger leverage to force the
club’s motion back and forth.
2) One arm swing
Ouch. This is the harder one. Or, more accurately, this exercise
to be much harder. I have to admit, when I first tried hitting balls with
one arm I found the practice tremendously humbling (and discouraging).
Indeed, most golfers who attempt such an endeavor give up immediately
and never try it again. Almost all of us fail to understand what our failed
action is telling us, loud and clear. We fail because we fail to
Think about it. If you have successfully performed exercise #1 (the
fingertip held pendulum swing with one hand) and have allowed the
26 Goodbye Hit, Hello Swing, Part II
clubhead to swing as far it will naturally swing in this mode (somewhere
around hip high), you’ve already made about half of the full motion. To go
full, all you need is to do is take a normal grip and free up your arm and
body to accommodate a longer motion. The swing action is the same.
So there I was on the practice tee addressing the ball with the club in
my right hand. My mind was churning.
How in the heck am I going to hit
this thing with one arm?
After one or two shanks, I was almost a basket
case. Talk about feeling a right hand “hitting” problem. With no left arm
aid, believe me, I felt the faulty action in no uncertain terms! I also noticed
that the people to the right of me were starting to inch farther away.
Fortunately I never had to utter a cowering rendition of,
Sorry I Almost
Took Your Head Off.
I can joke about that day now, but it was a little embarrassing at the
I realized that my problem was completely mental in nature. I
was focused on hitting the ball, instead of allowing the clubhead to
A full one arm swing is not a great deal more difficult to achieve
than a fingertip pendulum version― once you are fully attuned to a
motion. In my view, the great benefit of using one arm is that the
feeling of your errors are more acute, just like when you feel that blatant
exertion of effort to make the pendulum move faster. Total exposure of
your faults can be disheartening, but should it happen to you, you will
welcome it, because you will have learned a way to turn something
that appears really bad into something really good… really fast.
swinging motion, personalized with your unique signature, wants to
One quick tip: If you are right-handed and are using your right arm, a
right hand grip on the club may feel strange (since a portion of your
right hand normally covers the left). However you choose to feel the
contact, grip the club
. There is a definite tendency to perceive the
need for a tighter single-handed connection on the club. I fell into this
tension trap, and I paid the price. So go lighter than you think you need to.
The club will not fly out of your hand, and you will swing it beautifully.
Gravity is your never failing friend, so let the clubhead free fall from
the top. Squeezing on the grip will hinder its natural motion.
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