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How to Construct an Effective Golf Swing

Many people think that the most effective way to develop a consistent golf swing is to stand on the range whacking balls until you get it right. But the best way to develop a consistent golf swing is to break the swing down into pieces. Only after you have the first piece mastered should you move on to the next one.

Miniswings: Hands and arms

Position yourself in front of the ball and, without moving anything except your hands, wrists, and forearms, rotate the club back until the shaft is horizontal to the ground and the toe of the club is pointing up. The key to this movement is the left hand, which must stay in the space that it’s now occupying, in its address position. The left hand is the fulcrum around which the swing rotates.

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After you get the hang of that little drill, try hitting shots with your miniswing. Let the club travel through 180 degrees, with the shaft parallel to the ground on the backswing and then back to parallel on the through-swing; your follow-through should be a mirror image of the backswing.

Test your rhythm for your golf swing

One effective way for your brain to master something like the golf swing is to set the motion to music. When you start to move the club and your body into the swing, think of a melody. The golf swing should be a smooth motion, so your song should reflect that smoothness. Think of Tony Bennett, not Eminem.

Follow these steps to begin adding body movement to the hands-and-arms motion:

  1. Stand as if at address, with your arms crossed over your chest so that your right hand is on your left shoulder and your left hand is on your right shoulder. Hold a club against your chest with both hands.

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  2. Turn as if you’re making a backswing, letting your left knee move inward so that it points to the golf ball.

    Turn so that the shaft turns through 90 degrees, to the point where the shaft is perpendicular to a line formed by the tips of your toes.

    The real key here is keeping your right leg flexed as it was at address. Retain that flex, and the only way to get the shaft into position is by turning your body. You can’t sway or slide to the right and still create that 90-degree angle.

Your backswing should feel as if you’re turning around the inside of your right leg until your back is facing the target. That’s the perfect top-of-the-backswing position.

Unwinding

From the top, you must let your body unwind back to the ball in the proper sequence. (Your spine angle must stay the same from address to the top of the backswing.)

Uncoiling starts from the ground up:

  1. Move your left knee toward the target until your kneecap is over the middle of your left foot, where it stops.

    Any more shifting of the knee and your legs will start to slide past the ball. A shaft stuck in the ground just outside your left foot is a good check that your knee shift hasn’t gone too far. If your left knee touches the shaft, stop and try again.

  2. Slide your left hip targetward until it's over your knee and foot.

    Again, a shaft in the ground provides a good test — a deterrent to keep your hip from going too far.

Pay special attention to the shaft across your chest in this phase of the swing (work in front of a mirror, if you can). The shaft should always parallel the slope of your shoulders as you work your body back to the ball.

Finishing

Swing through the impact area all the way to the finish. Keep your left leg straight and let your right knee touch your left knee.

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Get yourself together

Practice each of these exercises for as long as you need to. After you put them together, you’ll have the basis of a pretty good golf swing, one that combines hands/arms and body motion.

Coordinating all these parts into a golf swing takes time. The action of the parts will soon become the whole, and you’ll develop a feel for your swing. But knowledge, in this case, does not come from reading a book. Only repetition — hitting enough balls to turn this information into muscle memory — will help you go from novice to real golfer. So get out there and start taking some turf!

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