No matter what else you think, your ability to hit good golf shots and control the ball comes down to impact … the moment your club collides with the ball.
Quite simply, your club tells the ball where to go and how to fly. It’s that simple! (Image 1)
But do you understand what should be happening at impact? When did you last practise with impact in mind?
In this lesson, I will share a way for you to work on impact at home, so that you can then develop your swing ready for the course.
Very often we get lost thinking about many swing positions, but unless these positions change your impact position to what you want, they might be of little or no use.
However, get a clear idea of impact – and practise movements and feelings associated with it, and this can very often develop other areas of your swing technique that you have been struggling to improve. This is basically the business principle of starting with the end in mind.
Whether it is in sports or business, when someone is clear what the end will look like, so many of the pieces in the puzzle fall into place with relatively little effort.
This article will help you begin to understand and feel a new impact position, and you can do it from home.
When we hit a golf ball, we apply a force to it. That force is an energy moving in a particular direction. The ball will only move when a force stronger than the gravitational one keeping it stationary is applied to it.
When I am coaching, I use the term ‘applying forward pressure to the ball’. Note this pressure is ‘forward’, and not ‘upward’ – the loft on the clubface takes care of height. You want this pressure to be such that it controls the ball on the line you want it to travel. Let’s find out what it feels like…
Grab a club and hold it in just one hand. Standing casually, put the clubhead up against a chair leg, or a similar weighted object, and start to apply pressure, or force, with the intention of moving the chair forward, along the floor. As you do this, notice the alignment of the clubhead; you will see it is square. (Image 2)
What about the angle of the golf shaft? You will see it is leaning forward, with the grip or butt end forward of the head; that angle will have increased from your start position. These two factors are precisely what needs to happen at impact to control a golf ball.
Having achieved a feeling for creating forward pressure, let’s look at how those sensations blend into achieving a balanced and strong impact.
The power of opposites
We often learn best by comparing one thing against another. It would, for example, be impossible to understand heavy if you couldn’t also experience something light. I regularly ask my clients to show me the opposite of what they are trying to achieve; doing so really helps them distinguish and fine-tune exactly what it is they are after. Let’s apply this principle here. Try to push the chair forward but have the clubface in an exaggerated open position then a closed one. (Image 3)
What happens? The chair leg probably spins out of the clubface, weakening the force the face can apply.
Now try it with the shaft leaning away from the intended line of force. You’ll notice it is hard to move the chair forward; your club may even slide up the chair leg. (Image 4)
This simple exercise shows you how the club needs to be positioned to apply the pressure needed for a straight, powerful shot. If you can apply your club to the golf ball in this way, you will develop solid strikes!
Three vital impact factors
Where you position the chair leg (the equivalent of your ball) will also affect the pressure. The same can be said of your alignment and body weight (balance).
1. Ball position: experiment with the chair leg a long way back in your stance; then try it a long way forward. Very quickly you will begin to gain a sense of the optimum position for the chair leg/ball for you to apply forward pressure consistently.
2. Balance: Use the principle of opposites to find the optimum impact balance. The best indicator for your balance is where the pressure feels against the ground under your feet. Set up to the chair leg once more, this time assuming your proper set-up with both hands on the club. Now begin to apply forward pressure with the clubhead to move the chair forward. As you do so, hold your weight predominantly over your lead foot, (image 5) before trying the reverse over your trail foot (image 6).
In these two different positions, you will experience different effects on your ability to apply forward pressure to the chair leg. It will become obvious that when you are fairly centred and balanced, you are in a stronger position to apply the forward pressure without straining or losing balance.
3. Alignment: You have already changed face alignment to feel how it affects the forward pressure you are able to exert; now, in the same way, alter your body alignment by aiming your toes, hips and shoulders firstly to the right of your intended line of force and then to the left. Again, you will find that with the energy of the body going in a different direction to your intended line of force, creating forward pressure becomes harder.
Summing up the chair leg drill
Through this one exercise, you will have gained a strong feeling of what impact is about, plus the realisation that ball position, alignment and, to some extent, balance can all be optimised when you understand how to apply the force of the club on to the ball to achieve forward pressure.
I hope this article has given you a clearer understanding of impact and how to apply the golf club to the ball so that the next time you play, you can produce a more consistent and powerful golf swing.
For more tips to help your golf, visit www.facebook.com/intuitivegolf
Scott Cranfield is a PGA Master Coach. For over 30 years, he has dedicated his life to helping golfers achieve their goals through a natural approach that embraces the true laws of how the human mind and body work. Scott’s unique approach has led to the creation of multiple training programmes, and the experience of coaching every standard of golfer from complete beginners through to Ryder Cup players. As well as enjoying a long TV career with Sky Sports and Setanta TV, in 2011 Scott was honoured with the award of PGA Master Professional & Coach.