Recently I came across an article in The New Yorker, written by Larry David. It has inspired me to correct some of the misconceptions people, especially David, use while hitting a golf ball. In the article David makes light of common golf phrases such as, “you should hit down to make it go up,” and “swing easy to make it go further.” David goes on to say that these phrases do not make common sense but they also do not work for him. Regardless of how comical the article was, it does poke fun at golf instruction and this is where I have to step in and defend my colleagues. This article is for you, Larry David, so pay attention and maybe you will reconsider playing the game blindfolded.
Swinging easier does not allow for a better swing, it just promotes a slower one. Tempos vary from player to player. Golfers like Ricky Fowler, for instance, swing the club faster from start to finish, while other golfers, such as Freddy Couples, swing the club more effortlessly. Many of my students have a fast-paced Manhattan lifestyle. Their tempo mimics their personality, unlike the smooth swing of David. One of the worst things a golfer can do is to try to swing with a tempo that is unnatural to him or her. In reality most golfers need to slow their thinking down and not their swing tempo. A better mental thought is to hit the ball as hard as possible while swinging the club with the correct rhythm. A good cue to correct rhythm is to say to yourself while swinging, “1 and 2.” One represents the backswing and 2 represents the downswing. If you can keep your swing at that pace your chance of good rhythm will be close.
“Hit Down to Make it Go Up.”
I am sure you have heard this phrase in golf instruction before, “you must hit down to make the ball go up.” Golf is a game of opposites; in order for the ball to go into the air we must make a downward descent into the golf ball. According to David, every time he hits down on the ball all he does is chop up the course, swinging like he is splitting a log with an ax. I have never had much luck with the phrase, “hit down” and prefer to think that when you make a golf swing you need to make a ground swing. The thought of making a swing while clipping the grass makes more sense as a mental image. When I teach my students to make a ground swing, I paint a small chalk line in the grass and instruct them to make it disappear. This allows them to “hit down” without having to feel like they are chopping up the golf course.
Larry David’s article is one of the funniest golf articles that I have read. It pokes fun at golf instruction and his obvious obsession with the game. Conceptually, David makes common sense of some of the most overused and, in his case, misunderstood golf phrases. Next time you hear someone telling their playing partner to, “hit down,” or “swing easy” I am sure you will smile but you will understand what that really means.
Here is a link to Larry David’s article.
Darren Demaille is the Head Golf Professional at The Bridge in Bridgehampton, NY. Prior to The Bridge, he worked at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, FL, and The Country Club of Fairfield in Fairfield, CT. Darren has had many Top 100 instructors influence his philosophy, but most of his principles are based on Jack Nicklaus’ way to play golf. [/expand]