Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Secret from the Best

A day doesn’t go by that someone doesn’t ask me about the “secrets” of the game. Many people often assume that the difference between their games and the best players in the world is a special bit of information that will make all the difference. There is no question that the best players have a greater knowledge of the game and how to play it. It is also true that while they are still competing they are slow to share the really valuable information in fear that someone will use it against them in a future tournament. However, I recently read an article written by Tiger Woods where in passing he mentioned some information that was shared with me years ago by Hall of Famer, Arnold Palmer. In my opinion this is a true secret of the game and yet I will bet that most people who read the same article completely overlooked it.
As Tiger described hitting a shot with a fairway wood he mentioned that you should be sure to swing the club in the direction your body is pointed. Mr. Palmer always said that the difference between the good player and the bad was that the good player always swung the club in the direction the body was pointed while the poor player would swing the club at the target regardless of where they were aligned. The resulting shot for a poor player would be a ball that starts at the target and then curves away. The better player starts the ball away from the target and curves the ball toward the flag, always getting closer. It is not that the better players have perfect alignment, far from it. But by swinging the club wherever their body is pointed they satisfy the first rules of shot making. Right to left shots must start to the right and left to right shots must start to the left.
Your best swings will always come when the club is moving in sync with your body. Easily the most common reason for any missed shot we see at the Academy is when people try to re-route the club in an attempt to steer the ball to the hole. The reason, and this is counter intuitive to many, is that the clubface is the major influence on direction, while the path as it relates to the face produces spin. The spin then causes the ball to curve. The more the path direction differs from the direction the face is pointed the more the spin and the bigger the curve. So here is the secret. The clubface controls the most of the direction, while the path produces the spin. If your shots curve away from the target try simply swinging the club where your feet are pointed and let the clubface bring the ball back on line.

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