How to evolve from an average ball-striker, to an excellent one
My ball-striking and swing are better than ever, and in this Adults Golf Swing Series, I’m going to share with you how to improve your technique while playing natural, feel golf – the way the greats of golf play played the game. (For excellent golf, you must mesh the two – “better technique and feel”).
To go with better ball-striking, my chipping and short-game are better than they’ve been for decades (partly, due to Steve Elkingtons excellent short-game video); my putting has remained solid.
Technically, my swing has “matured” and I have joined a better technique with the MVFEAR process that is outlined in the Automatic Golf System (the process is: “think, see, feel, swing, review”).
The Automatic Golf System is good for players that really care about improving their games, but, have got a little “technical” over time, and have lost that free-flowing swing. That free-flowing swing at its best is a “reaction” to what the player sees and feels. Or, how the mysterious, lovable, Shivas Irons, from Michael Murphy’s classic book – “Golf in the Kingdom”, put it: “Golf is imagination with hands” (love it!).
Nowadays, I feel like I have a solid golf swing that I can play well with at any golf course. I don’t need to practise much, I have my swing and a set of principles I adhere to (M.V.F.E.A.R is the process – from The Automatic Golf System).
I spent a long time as an “average” ball-striker because of a few (common) wrong moves that I made in my swing (I see them in so many players). I had a “Kids Golf Swing”. A child’s easy-going swipe-at-the-ball attitude is something we want, but, to get closer to your potential, you have to evolve your “Kids Swing”, into a strong, repeatable, Adults Swing.
“An Adults Golf Swing, joined to: ‘think, see, feel, swing’, will rip a drive straight down the first fairway – after not being used for a week.”
How do you know if you have a “Kids or Adults Golf Swing”?
I have not seen a club-golfer with a handicap of six or more with a fully functioning “Adults Swing”. The lower your handicap, the more “mature” your swing is. The higher your handicap, the more “elements” (that are mentioned below) of the “Kids Swing” you possess. The more “kid swing” elements you “mature” out of (by practising), the better your ball-striking and scoring will become.
Later in this article, I will run through what Kid Swing-faults I fixed. You will recognize which ones you possess, and be able to go to work on fixing them and maturing towards a fully functioning “Adults Golf Swing”.
How will developing an “Adults Swing” affect scoring?
When I was a young trainee in the late 90’s, I dived deep into becoming a “master putter”, the lowest score I could shoot would be 3 to 4 under par – a few times/year (that’s with taking just 23-24 putts). Now, I can shoot at least 7 under par, with 25 putts (that can be lowered by a couple shots – one day!), and I have shot 5 and 6 under par for 9 holes a few times.
These low scores are only achieved once in a while, however, when you have a fully functioning “Adults Swing”, your AVERAGE score is lowered – so you are permanently playing at a higher level (this means greater “mastery” and fulfillment). Technically, here are the first 2 of 4 points of how I went – and you can go – from an average ball-striker using a “Kids Swing”, to a content, solid, 11-15 green/round ball-striker, using an “Adults Swing.”
Frequent: pulls, pushes, hooks, slices, thin and fat shots, stem from golfers not having progressed to a simple, balanced, powerful, “Adults Golf Swing”
The signs that show you have a “Kids Golf Swing”:1. You “roll” the wrists a lot through impact. Often, you roll the hands open and club flat, half way into the back-swing, and what rolls open a lot, must roll shut a lot. In a repeating “Adults Golf Swing”, your wrists are more passive, they roll less on the takeaway (they hinge up, not horizontally – after the 3 feet of the swing). Through impact, they extend square down the line without rolling as much as in the “Kids Swing”. You are less consistent with a rolling kids-release. The club-face is not square for as long as in an adults-release down the line. More “rolling” requires greater timing, which decreases consistency.
The off-plane, half-way-back position I had this common off-plane move, which kept my club open. As mentioned above, If you roll the club-face open in the first half of the backswing, you will have to roll it shut on the way through. Slicers and Pullers: quite often, this is where the classic “over-the-top move” comes from – a poor move-away into the back-swing. Rolling the shaft flat on the backswing makes it very hard to slot the club on the downswing.
I worked on a neutral takeaway for quite a while, it made things better, but I also worked on a wide swing, which was a mistake (stretching too wide in the back-swing leads to many problems, like being too flat, tense, and moving your centre off the ball too much). Small fixesI wore a glove on my left hand for a couple of years whilst “pacifying” my left-hand-roll in the takeaway. This helped me feel firm in the left hand which helped me reduce the “rolling” of the hand on the takeaway. As I look back at this period, I used this key: “keep [back off] left hand looking at the target longer”. This is a simple, non-technical way to reduce the top-hand roll skywards, in the takeaway).
2. Your swing is loose and too long
This is not talked about much, but it has been a huge part of me becoming a solid ball-striker, and I know it will help many club-golfers. Almost, every great golfer has shortened their swing over time. Thinking, off the top of my head, these greats won MAJORS after shortening their swings:
- Ben Hogan (9)
- Kel Nagle (British Open – 1960, an Aussie)
- Greg Norman (1993 British Open)
- Davis Love the 3rd
- Nick Faldo (won 6 majors after shortening and tightening his swing)
- Tiger Woods started winning majors in 1997 with a shortened swing which Butch Harmon engineered
- Phil Mickelson’s swing is tighter than in his early Major-less years (coached by Butch, now)
- Nick Price won majors after tightening his swing under David Leadbetter
- John Daly (ha ha, got you! nothing short about JD’s swing)
Other major championship winners, who always used a 3/4-swing for short to mid irons, and a less than full swing on woods, include:
- Byron Nelson
- Lee Trevino
- Tom Kite
- Ian Woosnam
- Wayne Grady
- Sandy Lyle
- Tom Lehman
- Tony Jacklin
I know swinging “three quarters” has helped me…when I feel 3/4 and “in-the-rails” (on-plane), the ball goes to the target
Upcoming lesson: In our next lesson I will reveal to you the next element of a fully functioning Adults Golf Swing. If you can get close to mastering these Adults Golf Swing elements, you will be able to:
- Hit clean shots from bad lie/divots
- Hit consistently clean shots from fairway bunkers
- Hit solid half or punch-shots (this skill will help regulate your swing for all shots – you’ll have greater balance)
- Be able to swing with better tempo
- Create a “penetrating, wind-resistant ball-flight”
- Eliminate fat and thin shots
Speak to you in the next lesson, Anthony Recommended Resources