Question: Hi Coach Franz, I am about to give up- I am about to start hating going to the golf course as I am constantly hitting chunks or chili dips. What could I possibly being doing wrong?
Please do NOT quit!
Listen, we all start the same place in golf. I will give you my experience my first golf outing with my Dad- Coach Anthony- (or at least what I recall in my own head)
I stepped up to the first ever tee shot- everyone was watching- took a deep breathe to calm my nerves- tried to remember everything my Dad had said- there was no YouTube 30 years ago- started my swing then KABOOM, thudded my club ferociously with all my strength into the ground behind the golf ball!
Embarrassed, perhaps. Tingling running down my arm signalling soreness and a possible end to my squash career, perhaps. Was I discouraged- absolutely!
Now I had a past negative each time I approached a strike, driving itself deeper and deeper into my sub conscious mind that never sleeps. Thinking it was time for an appointment on the couch of a golf psychologist. Well, maybe a little dramatic, but I instantly realized, I need proper golf lessons! Nope my Dad was not the first one to teach me, he sent me to his original Coach, the legendary Jasper. Who, after 3 lessons told me I had the most natural swing he had ever seen. Come to find out he told that to everyone! Hey Coaches need to encourage right?
Simply put the bottom of the arc of my golf swing needed to change, as does yours, as does most beginners. That even holds true for some golfers who have been playing for a long time.
80% of a shot comes from your setup. Too many high handicap players actually have the ball forward of that imaginary center line between your feet when you set up. So check that ball position.
If you are set up correctly, let's take a look at the next possible cause- weight transfer in the downswing to get to that outside left heel after impact. Are you 'hanging back' trying to help the ball up into the air and therefore becoming an arms swinger type of golfer.
You cannot be moving backwards while trying to move forward, that is confusing the kinematic sequence. Focus on starting the downswing correctly, from the lower body up through to the arms. Consciously push off from the trail foot to begin that weight transfer without trying to hit the ball from the top of the downswing hands first. The arms and hands will drop naturally if you initiate with the lower body. The faster the lower body turns, the faster the arms will get 'dragged' forward to create that club head speed to impact.
At impact, check if your sternum is pointed in front of the golf ball on the target side. You need to have a good impact position where your weight is clearly on your left (lead side), with your hips and shoulders open to the target line Your body rotation is what's responsible for bringing your hands forward (of the club head), so that you can hit down on the ball and compress it. Where the sternum points is generally where the club will 'bottom out', creating that lag of the club head, to help create a downward blow directly to the back of the golf ball with the club striking the ground creating a divot after the ball has been struck.
Put a tee about one ball in front of the ball. Focus on hitting the tee not the ball. This perception drill utilizes your eyes to 'sub bio mechanically' ( yuup invented a word there for the next book ), force your rotation to bottom the club out after the ball is struck.
The final cause to self assess, can be early release of the hinge from the top of the backswing, causing the club head to be released ahead of the hands, thus again that awful thud behind the ball. Focus on keeping the hinge angle at the back of the trail wrist to at least the last parallel position in the down swing.
While not complete, these are the main cause and effect issues that once addressed will have you off the practice range, out on the golf course, excited to see that ball fly up into the air!
And finally remember John, if you quit, you can't get better. Cross that first hurdle in your mind, first lesson is on me!