I think it would fair to say that we see as wide a variety of students, at the United States Golf Academy, as any golf school in the country. Yet even while all these swings are different, I seem to talk about the same things regardless of skill level. For this week I thought it might be helpful if I would list a few of the most common issues, in the hopes it would help you evaluate your own swing and game.
Bad Grip. Easily the most frequent problem we discuss. The most important factor when swinging a golf club is how your hands fit to the handle. It is also the most difficult issue to address. As a player you get used to the feel of your hands on the club and when a professional asks you to change, you fight them because it feels different. Remember that a new feel might also mean new and improved results. I have a standing offer; anyone who stops in the Academy looking for help with their grip, the lesson is no charge. It might be the best deal in golf.
Posture. The second most common fault is what I call the twisted posture. Shoulders aligned in one direction, hips in another, feet all over the place. This is usually caused because we set our feet first and then twist the rest of our body to the golf ball. As I have said many times before, get your hands on the club first, get the club on the ground behind the ball, position your shoulders parallel to the direction your wish to swing the club, and then adjust your feet to your shoulders. It is hard to get out of position if you use this method.
Over Swing. Most struggling golfers take the club back too far in their backswing. There is a point of no return in every golf swing and in order to be a good player you have to find that point. For every one swing I see that is too short, there are 50 that are too long. Our Director of Golf, Pat Bayley has a great method to show the limits of your backswing. Stand as if you are going to hit a golf shot. With your right or back arm reach back and up as far as you can. Now without moving your right arm reach back with the left or lead arm as far as you can. You will notice there is quite a difference from the location of your lead arm and the back arm. Your back swing length is limited by how far the lead arm can go back regardless of how far you can reach with the back arm. Many players will contort their bodies so they can reach the back arm. This causes a loss of balance and inconsistent strikes.