|Hit the Back of the Ball|
By: Bill Chandler, GM, Director of Golf, The Windermere Club
Is there anything in golf more pure, more satisfying, and more magical than the sensation of crisp, full, direct contact with the back of the ball?
Every so often we truly “hit the nail on the head.” But unfortunately for the majority of recreational players, a round of golf is a collection of glancing blows, partial hits, and less-than-perfect contact. But there is a way to significantly increase your success potential. You see, great golf shots begin with good posture. And if yours is just a little off-kilter, the odds of your making solid contact drop in a hurry. The reason is because your posture dictates your swing plane, your angle of attack, your body rotation, and all the other micro-mechanical elements that determine exactly what part of the clubface will hit what part of the ball.
To achieve perfect golf posture at setup, you must learn to “stack your body parts.” What that means is that you should take a position ion which your shoulders, your knees, and the balls of your feet are all on top of each other. If you’ve never aligned yourself this way before, it might feel like you’re bending your knees a little more than usual. That’s actually good since you have now settled into a perfect athletic set-up. It’s a lot like a good basketball player who stands on the free throw line - balanced, flexible, and ready to spring into action.
For example, if you are a golfer who stands 6’ tall, this set-up position will compress your height to about 5’8”. Now here’s the trick- you must maintain that height through the backswing, into the forward swing, and past the point where your club has hit the ball. That’s the challenge. Watch other weekend golfers at the driving range. Check how their height grows during their swing as they pick up their left heels or otherwise stand up and out of their starting position somewhere along the way.
When you change the distance between the top of your head and the ground during the course of the swing, you are requiring your brain to perform an incredibly complex mathematical computation. You are asking yourself to somehow figure out how to get the sweet spot of the club head onto the back of the ball (even though that ball is now in a different relative location than when you took the club back) in a matter of microseconds and with your club traveling 90+ miles per hour. To be honest, what’s really amazing is that every so often your brain can actually do this which accounts for those occasional great shots you hit. But there’s no way this can be accomplished with any consistency.
Now watch the great PGA Tour players. Pay particular attention to the taller guys- players like Nick Faldo, Davis Love III, and Ernie Els, all of whom are over 6’2”, are great examples. From the moment they are setup until long after their ball is launched into orbit, the distance from the top of the head to the ground doesn’t change. Nor should yours. When you start your swing with this perfect posture and maintain it, many great things happen-automatically. Your angle of attack is now completely corrected which produces shots that are launched at the ideal trajectory for a long, straight flight. Your shoulder rotation flows smoothly which creates great weight transfer and maximum momentum through the forward swing. And your percentage of solid back-of-the-ball contact goes up immediately.
As you practice this concept, you can boil it down to one easy-to-remember thought: From a good posture position, the rotation of the body swings the club and the club makes the hit. If you can allow yourself to concentrate on the entire swing as one flowing move with the actual hit of the ball being just one incidental occurrence, you will start to see the improvement right away. Get someone to watch your posture. Check to see that you’re not changing your height throughout the swing. Do it over and over again for days. It’s like when you were like a little kid trying to learn your telephone number for the first time. It took a few repetitions, but in almost no time, you had it locked away in your brain forever. In fact, to this day, you may very well remember the number of the house you grew up in. If you can ingrain your perfect body posture the same way, you will most assuredly start posting lower scores than ever before.