Golf, it seems like an exceedingly simple game. You hit a small white ball as close as possible to a small target over a grassy field. Quite simple indeed. But the real challenge of golf is in breaking through the many natural misunderstandings surrounding the mysterious golf swing.
Like shooting an arrow, there is much about the golf swing that must be understood intuitively. The muscles, the eyes, and the nerves must be trained through many hours of practice to strike the ball in just the right way to create the shot we want to produce. But if those many hours of practice are spent honing a faulty technique- then we are wasting time and effort. We can go a long way to improve the quality of our practice time using advanced tools like the Launch Monitor. But if we persist in certain basic misunderstandings, then we will never meet our potential.
For a start, consider the backswing. Most people intuitively assume that when you draw the head of the club away from the ball and prepare to strike the ball that the club must move back in a straight line. This, of course, is impossible. A golfer’s body is not a pendulum or a metronome. The head of the club must follow an arc that could be laid on a circle that goes around the body of the golfer at a forward-tilted angle.
Imagine a clock facing the sky with the torso of a golfer protruding from the center. Now tilt the face forward. The edge of this imaginary clock represents the arc that the golfer wants to draw the head of the club along. This might sound convoluted and strange, but to anyone who is laboring under that assumption that the head of the club must move straight back, it’s an eye-opener.
By the same token, there is another similar misconception about the backswing regarding the face of the club. Most beginner golfers assume the face must move straight back- like a car backing up. This is wrong. Since we know that the backswing is not like a mechanical pendulum, but more like a tilted orbit- we should also realize that the face of the club will naturally tilt on the backswing.
Once we break down common, intuitive misconceptions like these- then we can start practicing good form- instead of practicing bad form. With the help of sophisticated tools like Launch Monitor, we’ll save a lot of time. But your first job as a beginner golfer is to disabuse yourself of these common misconceptions about your swing.