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Golf teaching and playing articles > Make sure you interpret advice correctly

5 Aug 2004

In writing articles for this column over the past few months, I have covered various educational topics such as cause and effect of ball flight, misconceptions about the golf swing and topics that affect performance, such as training and nutrition.

I have stayed away from specific tips about parts of the golf swing. I have always believed that it would be hard to make sure the reader interpreted the tip correctly without my being able to personally observe and make sure the action was what I intended.

Through the years I have seen far too many golfers who have hurt their golf swings and performance by misinterpreting tips or golf advice they have read or seen on TV.

I had another example last week.

Harry came for a lesson complaining that he does not have much distance and could not hit a driver very far, and it sliced a lot.

His golf swing was very stiff and far too upright, causing him to swing very outside-in to the golf ball, imparting a lot of slice spin on the ball.

Harry had no wrist hinge, and his right elbow was very straight and too far from his body.

In discussing the problem, he revealed he had been doing this intentionally because he had read you want as much extension as possible on the back swing, and he was trying to extend his right arm as far out as possible.

The reality is that extension is created by the target-side arm, or in Harry's case, his left arm. The trailing, or right arm for Harry should stay close to the body in what is called "connection." Connection is one of the many principles that control the golf club.

Harry violated the Principle of Connection with his misinterpretation of the advice he had read. The result was a very powerless, slice-prone golf swing.

We worked on getting his elbow to stay closer to his body and letting his wrists bend a little to get the golf club closer to his body and into a flatter position.

He has agreed to discuss with me any future tips he plans to use before changing. Together we will check to see whether it is a correct piece of advice for him and if he is interpreting it correctly.

You might want to do the same with a teaching professional, to prevent the same kind of mistakes Harry made.

You can check my Web site (drill page) for pictures that illustrate the difference in the correct extension in the back swing versus the lack of connection that was Harry's problem.