Why is golf so hard? The ball isn’t even moving … Precisely!
It has fascinated me during my 40 plus years as a golf instructor that the games played with a stick and a moving ball are generally more easily learned to an intermediate level than golf usually is. This observation has convinced me that the difference is the attention we pay to the process. After learning and practicing fundamentals, participants in moving-ball-with-stick sports quickly realize the purpose of the swing motion is to give flight to the ball. Golfers, meanwhile, focus too much on a swing motion technique because with the ball not moving - THEY CAN. They then continue to wallow in the swing-technique-of-the-month magazine that arrives in the mailbox.
Have you ever held a ping pong paddle or tennis racquet in your hand with the intention of hitting topspin but actually hit a cut spin instead? I don’t think so. You may not hit the perfect shot, but you never hit the opposite spin. Golfers, even the experts, do it all the time.
Playing successful golf, like most ball sports, is all about learning to control the spin on the ball. Backspin creates flight, and side spin creates curve. Apply the loft of the club by putting the leading edge near the bottom of the ball. Apply side spin to the ball by manipulating the club face with your lead hand through the impact zone.
The most common student for most golf instructors is the golfer who hits weak slices because he struggles to get the club all the way to square at impact. Learning how to “turn your lead hand down” is the secret to getting the club head square. Could you possibly imagine not being able to hit a ping pong ball or tennis ball with a variety of spins? (By the way, I must remind you again that those balls are moving.)
Spend some time early in the season hitting the golf ball with all the curves: left, right and straight (yes, straight is one of the curves). Sure, you’ve hit thousands of curves, but if you’re anywhere close to the norm, those curves have been accidental. By learning to hit curve balls, your golf game will experience a significant paradigm shift, and you will quickly learn that hitting a straight shot when you want is the INTENT of your swing not the RESULT of your swing. As learning to feel the face of the club becomes your new normal, the desired ball flight will create your swing shape and function. When that occurs, you’ll be well on your way to freeing yourself from swing-of-the-month technique and developing the creative energy to make the golf ball fly any way you wish. At that point, your golf experience will improve more quickly than you can imagine.